Next up in our annual prospect review and forecast series is Clay Stevenson, goaltender for the South Carolina Stingrays and Hershey Bears. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page in the top menu or right here.)
Stevenson, 24, is a 6’-4” left-handed netminder from Drayton Valley, Alberta. The Capitals inked the undrafted free agent to a two-year entry-level deal for $855,000 average annual value on March 28, 2022.
Stevenson played three seasons with the Coquitlam Express in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). In his third and final season in 2019-20, Stevenson finished with a 30-2-2 record and four shutouts, a 1.77 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. He led the team to the Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy, presented to the BCHL’s regular season champion.
Stevenson was named a BCHL First Team All-Star, was honored as the BCHL’s Top Goaltender after finishing with the BCHL’s top goals-against average and top save percentage and was given the Wally Forslund Trophy, presented to the BCHL’s top goaltending duo.
In 85 games with Coquitlam, Stevenson finished with a 48-29-3 record with six shutouts, a 2.82 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
“I think the biggest change that year was my mental maturity,” Stevenson said of his stint with the BCHL. “I was a lot more confident in myself day-to-day and I started to take the games one at a time instead of worrying about the bigger picture.”
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). He posted a save percentage above .900 in all 23 games and his .922 save percentage was tied for second in the ECAC. Stevenson was named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team and the ECAC Third All-Star Team. Stevenson did not play for Dartmouth during his freshman season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Capitals signed Stevenson to a two-year entry-level deal for $855,000 average annual value on March 28, 2022. Stevenson went undrafted, as he was a “late-bloomer”. It wasn’t until his breakout 2019-2020 season with the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League that he said he began to believe he could make the NHL. As a result, several teams were hoping to sign Stevenson.
“The biggest factor in my decision-making was where I had the most opportunity to develop,” Stevenson said. “I ultimately made the decision to go to Washington because their track record shows that they build within their organization.”
After the Covid-cancelled 2020-21 season, Stevenson remained committed to becoming an elite goaltender. “My conversation with Clay when we first met was, ‘My job is to make you a good college goalie, but my ultimate goal is to make you an elite NHL goalie,’” Dartmouth goaltending coach Jason Tapp said. “That’s what we’re always trying to build towards.”
Despite not having games to play in 2020, Stevenson said that he dedicated himself to maximizing his own development for the following season.
“The [COVID-19] year was a challenge just because of all the rules, we couldn’t work on things like screens and tips, but Clay’s work ethic is at the top of our team,” Tapp said. “He was diligent, never missed goalie ices and we watched video every Monday night for an hour or two.”
Stevenson’s teammate and backup goalie Troy Burkhart ’23 echoed Tapp’s sentiments about his elite mentality.
“His mindset going into every drill seemed to be that he was going to stop every single puck, no matter what,” Burkhart said. “By going 110% he also caused his teammates to improve alongside him.”
Stevenson never lacked for talent, Burkhart said. Standing at 6’4, he has an explosive quickness between the pipes that makes scouts drool.
“He can get from one side of the net to the other in an instant and he is able to anticipate where the puck is going on any pass or shot,” Burkhart said. “He has a special combination of great predictions and great athleticism.”
Before signing with the Capitals, Stevenson met with both the Capitals and New York Rangers, while also drawing interest from the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken. Stevenson signed an amateur tryout agreement (ATO) to join the Hershey Bears for the end of the season, but did not see any game action.
“During my recruiting process I knew I had to be going to a place that I had an opportunity to develop and grow my game,” Stevenson told NoVa Caps. “The people in Washington’s organization showed me a developmental philosophy that I trusted and thought I could really build my game to the next level with,” said Stevenson.
“I would say the three major factors in the process were; opportunity, development, and people.”
Danny Brooks, the Capitals Director of Player Recruitmant, has done an incredible job in finding undrafted “diamonds in the rough”, so to speak. Just consider players like Joe Snively and Bobby Nardella, who also went undrafted and were successfully recruited by Brooks, and you can see that Brooks is good at what he does.
“Danny Brooks is a great recruiter and coach,” said Stevenson. “He has an incredible view on life and is a great person to know and talk to. He is also a good guy to have in your corner.”
Stevenson participated in the Capitals annual development camp in July of 2022, and also returned for Capitals 2022 rookie camp and Capitals main training camp in September of 2022.
Stevenson spent a majority of the 2022-23 season with the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL, going 19-12-3-1 with a 2.54 GAA and a .916 save percentage in 36 appearances. In the postseason, Stevenson went 2-1-2 with a 2.11 GAA and a .926 save percentage. Stevenson also appeared in three games with the Hershey Bears, going 3-0-0 with a 1.96 GAA and a .924 save percentage.
2022-2023 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Clay Stevenson during the 2022-2023 season. Also included are his monthly scores (0-5, with 2.5 being average). You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Stevenson has been out all season after undergoing surgery on his right hand. He will be heading to South Carolina in the ECHL when he returns.
Monthly Score: Incomplete
The Dartmouth College product played seven games for South Carolina in November after missing all of October with an injury.
Stevenson compiled a 3-2-1-1 record for the month. He made 38 saves in his first start against Atlanta on November 5. The Drayton Valley, Alberta native picked up his first pro win in the game.
#ALLCAPS Clay Stevenson stopped 38 of 40 for a .950 sv% – was named first star of the game. https://t.co/m2fuMOxTCI
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) November 6, 2022
Stevenson has a .910 save percentage and a 2.82 goals-against average thus far.
Monthly Score: 3.0
Stevenson stopped 37 of 38 shots he faced as the South Carolina Stingrays beat the Savannah Ghost Pirates by a final score of 2-1 on December 1 and he stopped all 25 shots he faced in his first professional shutout in a 3-0 victory on December 3.
Stingrays shutout the Ghost Pirates 3-0 behind 25 saves by Clay Stevenson. Check out the MedTrust Postgame Highlights. 🎥 pic.twitter.com/LOqHprFMge
— SC Stingrays (@SCStingrays) December 4, 2022
Stevenson was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for Nov. 28-Dec. 4. He went 2-0-0 with one shutout, a 0.50 goals-against average and a save percentage of .986 in two appearances against Savannah.
Stevenson was recalled by the Hershey Bears on December 5, in part due to the callup of Hunter Shepard to Washington. He would backup Zach Fucale on December 6 against Charlotte
Clay Stevenson, called up by the Hershey Bears on Monday, looking good in the chocolate and white. #ALLCAPS #HBH pic.twitter.com/9CmKZOvo8d
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 6, 2022
Stevenson would shine in his AHL debut, stopping 25 of 27 shots faced in the Bears’ 3-2 win over the Cleveland Monsters in Hershey.
Stevenson got the start again a week later against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and stopped 23 of 24 shots he faced for his second consecutive win. In the end, Stevenson made three starts during his first stint in Hershey and won all three games, posting a 1.96 GAA and a .924 save percentage.
Monthly Score: 4.0
The Dartmouth College product went 3-1-2 in January. Stevenson turned aside all 29 shots he faced in earning a shutout victory over Atlanta on January 6. He got the best of Atlanta two more times in the month.
On January 11, Stevenson not only beat Atlanta 5-1 with 27 saves, but also picked up a pair of assists in the contest. He had the secondary helper on Kevin O’Neil’s first period tally that would be the game winner. He then added another secondary assist on Carter Turnbull’s third period goal.
On the season, Stevenson is 10-3-3-1 and has registered two shutouts. He ranks second in the ECHL with a .926 save percentage. Stevenson’s 2.19 goals-against-average is the second best in the league.
Monthly Score: 3.5
The Drayton Valley, Alberta native got the call in net nine times in the month of February. He compiled a 6-3 record in his nine starts. South Carolina was shutout in two of his losses.
Stevenson made 24 saves in a 4-2 road win over Worcester on February 3. The Dartmouth College product also picked up the secondary assist on Jonny Evan’s game-winning power play goal with one second remaining in the second period. The helper was Stevenson’s third of the season.
He stopped 36 shots in a 5-4 overtime win in Savannah on February 11 and then kept out 31 shots in a 5-3 victory in Atlanta on February 14. The netminder dropped his next to starts, surrendering seven goals total in the games.
Stevenson bounced back to turn aside 33 of 34 shots in a 3-1 triumph over Fort Wayne. He also won his final start of the month. For the season, Stevenson has a record of 16-6-3-1 with two shutouts. He ranks fifth in the ECHL with a goals against average of 2.46.
Monthly Score: 3.0
It was a rough month for Stevenson as he won just one game and lost five times. It should be noted that did not get much offensive support during the stretch.
He was in goal for a 10-2 win against the Atlanta Gladiators on March 3, making 26 saves in 27 chances. On March 5, he was pulled after giving up four goals in an eventual 7-2 loss to the Orlando Solar Bears. He made 8 saves on 12 shots.
On March 8 he made 37 saves on 39 shots in a 2-1 loss against the Florida Everblades. On March 11, he lost a 3-1 decision to the Florida Everblades, making 25 saves on 28 shots against.
On March 17, he was in goal for a 4-1 loss to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits where he made 28 saves out of 32 shots. He was in goal for a 2-1 loss to the Maine Mariners on March 25.
CLAY WITH THE DIVING STOP 😳 @ECHL pic.twitter.com/ZL850ivmTX
— SC Stingrays (@SCStingrays) March 26, 2023
On March 20, he was called up to the Hershey Bears but on March 24, he was reassigned to the Stingrays from the Bears.
For the season, Stevenson has a record of 17–11–4-1 with two shutouts. He has a goals against average of 2.55 and a save percentage of .916. He played three games with the Hershey Bears, has a record of 3-0, a goals against average of 1.96, and a save percentage of .924
Monthly Score: 3.0
In the postseason, Stevenson went 2-1-2 with a 2.11 GAA and a .926 save percentage, but the Rays were eliminated in the first round, as goal scoring somewhat dried up for South Carolina.
Stevenson recorded a shutout in his first career postseason start, stopping all 29 shots he faced in game 2 of their first round playoff series with the Florida Everblades. [More here].
One down. ✖️#Quest4Kelly pic.twitter.com/exvjzjZViK
— SC Stingrays (@SCStingrays) April 25, 2023
“The guys kept it tight especially when we were down on the penalty kill. We got back to our structure and we didn’t give them anything.”
Stevenson finished the regular season with a record of 19-12-3, including three shutouts, with a 2.54 goals against average and a .916 save percentage in 36 appearances.
Stevenson also went a perfect 3-0-0 with a 1.94 goals against average and a .924 save percentage in three appearances for the Hershey Bears this season.
Monthly Score: 3.0
MONTHLY SCORE SUMMARY
Stevenson had a solid first year of development in the Capitals organization. He also showed he can compete in the AHL, going 3-0-0 with a 1.94 goals against average and a .924 save percentage in three appearances for the Hershey Bears this season.
With Zach Fucale and Hunter Shepard both becoming unrestricted free agents at the end of the Bears postseason, it’s very conceivable one or both won’t be back next seas0n. Stevenson is the logical replacement and he is ready for the next step.
By Jon Sorensen
Clay Stevenson Makes The Most Of First Stint In Hershey
Bears Down Penguins, 2-1 (OT); Mike Sgarbossa Scores Overtime Game-Winner, Clay Stevenson Shines
Clay Stevenson Records Shutout In First Professional Postseason Game
Clay Stevenson And Benton Maass Returned to ECHL South Carolina
Clay Stevenson Re-assigned To Hershey Bears
Clay Stevenson Re-Assigned To Hershey
Capitals’ Prospect Clay Stevenson Says It’s A “Progression Year” To “Accelerate My Game And Bring It Up To Pace Of A Professional Goaltender”
Caps have to re-sign Shepard, unless they can’t (he wants to try free agency, which I wouldn’t blame him). Regardless, Stevenson is #1 or #2 in Hershey next season. He’s earned it.
WOW such a brilliant statement!! WHY do they HAVE to resign him and what is this unless they cant for …to cover all bases? Please explain how he will be $1 or $2 in Hershey if they do not resign him?
He’s an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere (whoever offers him the best deal). He had a great season and the Caps snubbed him.
Greetings folks! Just a quick note, if you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps posts in the “subscribe” box located in the upper right corner. Thank you!
Stevenson would look great in Caps Red someday. A heavy-duty talent and physical specimen.
He would be Caps second goalie with that name. Wayne Stephenson did a credible job for several really bad Caps teams in the late 70s early 80s. Won several playoff games for the Stanley Cup Champion Philadelphia Flyers in 1975. Was one of the few “real” NHL players on the early Caps teams who set all sorts of futility records in their first four seasons.
A contrast: Stevenson in Hershey is a massive beast at 6-4 and 200 lbs. Wayne S. was 5-9 and slender.
HE would be a beast and look so good in the net in Wash. Give him a year in Hershey and if he is ready for the 24/25 season who do you trade Kuemper or Lindgren?