Happy Independence Day! The Devils Draft Prospect Series continues today with two of my favorite Devils prospects but before we get into that, be sure to look through the “Draft Prospect Series” tag for draft profiles of (most of) the 2017 draft picks. Let’s get started.
The New Jersey Devils selected C Michael McLeod with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry-Level Draft and haven’t looked back. He’s the current Captain of the Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) and has played three years with the organization. the 19-year old Canadian center, hailing from Mississauga, is 6′ 2″ and 194 pounds. He has a really good shot at making the team if he has a good development camp, offseason, and training camp. I don’t see any reason why New Jersey shouldn’t (wouldn’t) bring him up.
Here are some of his stats over the last few years:
The first thing you’ll notice is his offensive production. He is a consistent point machine, and can score goals and dish them out. He had 73 regular season points in 57 games during the 2016-17 regular season; he averaged 1.28 points per game. He finished second on the team and 19th in the OHL in scoring, just two points behind ‘Sauga’s leading scorer, Owen Tippett (Tippett also played three more games). He had 27 playoff points in 20 games, good for 5th in the league during the postseason; the four top scorers all played two more playoff games and all played for the OHL Champion, Erie Otters. He helped the Steelheads reach the OHL Cup Final for the first time in playoff history and they had one heck of a postseason run.
The year prior, McLeod also finished second in regular season scoring on the Steelheads with 61 points in the same number of games, 14 points behind Alex Nylander, ‘Sauga’s leading scorer (they both played 57 games). He had nine points in seven playoff games, behind both Nylander (12) and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda (10). Most of his points over the past few seasons have come at even strength but McLeod’s been good on the power play as well. He was named an OHL All-Star two seasons in a row.
McLeod has also represented Canada internationally; he’s played at World Juniors the past two years and has seven points in 14 games.
Watch him in action:
The second thing you’ll notice is his speed. He is fast.
And after you’ve watched him play, you’ll notice that he’s a good kid too.
McLeod is just so. good. He plays an incredible all-around game and is good in his own zone as well as the opponent’s. He’s a phenomenal skater (one of the best in the OHL) and is a great puck handler. He sees the ice incredibly well and has a high hockey IQ. His speed is unparalleled, and all of these make him hard to defend and play against. You can’t contain him. There’s really nothing to not like about him or his game. He’s incredible.
I’ve watched more Steelheads games this year than I have in years prior and McLeod is one of the biggest reasons why. He’s fun to watch. They’re all fun to watch. But I love McLeod, I really do, and I can’t say enough good things about him. People were skeptical at first but he’s really proven himself over the last year in Mississauga. And I think plenty of Devils fans are itching for him to break the lineup and bring some much-needed speed and energy to the team, as well as some fun into the locker room.
Here’s a quote from Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects:
Here’s a scouting report from The Draft Analyst: “McLeod is an exciting two-way player with leadership qualities who happens to be one of the best skaters available for the coming NHL draft. He has one-step acceleration which helps him keep defenders off balance once the puck ends up on his stick. From that point forward, it’s off to the races, as McLeod combines his speed with keen vision to not only identify others for an option or two, but create one for himself. The best word to describe McLeod’s game is rapid — everything he does is with effort and a sense of urgency. What separates McLeod from the lot of draft-eligible speedsters is that he has the size, strength and puck-control skills to go along with it. He’s an excellent passer either up the ice or diagonally in the offensive zone, and his ability to thread the needle while moving his feet can force opponents to cheat towards the pass. This creates a parting of the seas, and many times you’ll see McLeod zoom into a massive opening for a scoring chance of his own. Therein lies the rub, however, as McLeod generates a ton of shots towards the cage without the kind of finish you’d like to see from a high-end scoring forward. Nevertheless, he’s a pure center with good faceoff skills and a relentless desire to succeed. There’s no quit in McLeod; something many of his peers are clearly lacking.”
If you want some more reading material, here’s a Prospect Profile from Brian Born of nhl.com. It also lists some of his favorite things and how, if he wasn’t a hockey player, he’d be a real estate agent. And here’s an article from Mike Morreale of nhl.com as well; it delves more into McLeod and Bastian, and how their hockey journeys have been and are very similar. But more on Bastian and the two of them later today.
McLeod is one of the OHL’s brightest stars and is going to make a huge impact in New Jersey. I’m super excited to play at his second development camp with the team and I hope he makes the team out of training camp, provided that he has a good offseason and camp. He’s someone who can contribute a ton, offensively and off of the ice. He’s young and he still has room to grow and develop but he has all the makings of a great NHL player.