On Sunday, Washington Capitals goaltending prospect Clay Stevenson spoke to the media following the team’s third day of rookie camp. The 23-year-old goaltender discussed working towards professional play and how this year is all about sharpening skills for future opportunities.
He called the transition into professional play “good,” adding that it’s “been a little bit of an adjustment.” Stevenson posted a record of 6-14-2, with two shutouts, a 2.70 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in his sophomore season at Dartmouth College of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). The Capitals inked the undrafted free agent to a two-year entry-level deal for $855,000 average annual value on March 28, 2022. His NHL deal starts this season.
“You kinda don’t really know what’s next or what’s going to happen or stuff like that…you just kinda work on getting better every day and not stress on what your future’s going to entail.”
Stevenson went undrafted. It wasn’t until his breakout 2019-2020 season with the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League that the netminder said he began to believe he could make the NHL. As a result, several teams were hoping to sign Stevenson.
“The biggest difference is guys get a little more crafty on their deception of shots and hiding their releases,” Stevenson said. “The biggest difference I’ve noticed moving up in levels is just the execution of the plays that happen. The players don’t mess up on passes that much…it just makes everyone that much sharper and brings everyone up as a whole.”
Stevenson mentioned he arrived in the District last Tuesday and is looking forward to connecting with more players and meeting “those guys who’ve gone to the farthest reaches of hockey.”
“You can see how the nature of their game kind of progresses into what it is and to how they get there and their habits off the ice. I’m more of a guy who’s just observant of those kinds of things.”
There was a small scrimmage last week and Stevenson did face a shot or two by none other than Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. “It’s an Alex Ovechkin shot, ” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know what else there is to say about it.”
Regarding expectations and roles, Stevenson said the focus is on the present and rookie camp. “We haven’t had those discussions of what’s next. It doesn’t matter right now for me. This is a progression year for me and a time for me to accelerate my game and bring it up to pace of a professional goaltender…I’m just happy to do my part to help the team succeed.”
Stevenson was also asked about his new Capitals mask, which was created by world-renowned goalie mask artist Dave Gunnarsson. “We just kind of collaborated on it. He sent me a few mock designs…I didn’t really have anything specific in mind. I had my personal touches on the back plate, but more or less, he did the designing…I wanted the matte finish too and that’s kind of becoming a bit more common now these days I’ve noticed, so I thought it looks pretty sharp.”
By Della Young
More on Stevenson:
5 “Other” Prospects To Keep An Eye On As We Enter Preseason Camps
Prospect Forecast: Projecting Where Each Of The Capitals Prospects Will Play This Season
Assessing The Washington Capitals Organizational Depth At Goaltender
Clay Stevenson Debuts New Capitals Bucket
Clay Stevenson: 2022 Annual Review And Forecast
Capitals Current Goaltender Depth Chart And Projected Assignments For 2022-23 Season
Capitals Officially Announce Signing Of Goaltender Clay Stevenson