The New York Islanders head to this year’s NHL Entry Draft with the 19th overall selection. The organization doesn’t have immediate needs the draft could fulfill so they will likely select the best available candidate. And that might just bee Michael McLeod.
With a fairly strong 2015-16 season the New York Islanders find themselves selecting 19th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. According to SportsNet’s Damien Cox, the Isles will select Michael McLeod in their first turn at the podium.
McLeod is a highly rated center playing for the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing 185lbs at 18 makes McLeod an impressive physical specimen.
But it’s not his physical play that makes McLeod standout. Rather it’s his speed and his ability to make plays. Eliteprospect.com says: “His deft puckhandling skills and control over his speed are the defining aspects of his offensive abilities. All-in-all, a top talent that is both dynamic and hard to play against.”
In his most recent season with the Steelheads, McLeod posted 21 goals and 40 assists in 61 games played and another nine points in seven playoffs games.
At 18 he probably isn’t ready for the NHL just yet, but Cox believes that McLeod could replace the more than likely departing Frans Nielsen as the Islanders second line center. A bold claim considering that Ryan Strome would likely fill that position.
Just a few months ago the Islanders probably wouldn’t have thought McLeod to become available at the 19th spot. In the NHL’s mid-term central scouting report, McLeod was ranked sixth amongst North American skaters. In the most recent report, he sits at 13th.
Production Dips Will Cost You
McLeod could attribute his fall in the rankings in part to a slowdown in production. From the start of the season to January, when the mid-term scouting report was published, McLeod had 46 points in 42 games. From January 18th onwards, McLeod recorded just 15 points in 15 games.
All-in-all, a top talent that is both dynamic and hard to play against.
He was still a point per game player, but his pace dropped and that invariably affects the way that scouts see you and report on you. Want to know how much production matters in the final rankings? Ask Alexandre Daigle.
In his draft year, Daigle put up 137 points, after already posting an 110 point season in the previous year. The Ottawa Senators took him at first overall in the 1993 draft. Daigle would never score more than 51 points in an NHL season.
McLeod had a good junior season. Being drafted by the Islanders should be a good fit. He would likely stay in the juniors for a final year before being called up to the AHL squad.
The Islanders are already blessed with a talented core of center: John Tavares, Ryan Strome, Mathew Barzal, and now, hopefully, McLeod. All 25-years-old or less, and all talented.