NHL 2016 DRAFT RADAR: MICHAEL MCLEOD

Few players in this years draft have run up and down central scouting rankings like Michael McLeod has. The Mississauga Steelheads excellent two-way centre stands a solid 6’2″, 188 lbs but possesses the skating ability only normally seen on a much smaller frame. He can start the plays, he can break up the ones going the other way and he can do it all himself if he has to. To start the year, McLeod was firmly planted in the top 10, ranked 6th overall for North American skaters when the mid-term rankings came out. While his Mississauga teammate Alex Nylander sits a few spots ahead of him on the board now, he’s no half-rate constellation prize for a team picking further down the draft and has potential to compete easily with those other high-ranking forwards. 

THE STATS

The Mississauga Steelheads haven’t been all that great the two years McLeod has played on the team which some might partially blame for his fluctuating ranking. They finished fourth of five in a mediocre central division where they were bounced by the Barrie Colts in seven games this year. McLeod still managed to put up nine points in the seven games falling just short of the upset. While his rookie season left more to be desired, he sure bounced back hard in his sophomore year, more than doubling his offensive output and sitting comfortably above a point-per-game pace. With some decent line mates, we saw his playmaking ability shine and top the 40 assist mark. All the more remarkable is his ability to put up these numbers while also being praised for an incredibly tight defensive game. The kid can skate and with the way the NHL is transitioning right now, I’m sure McLeod is getting careful consideration by every team drafting in the top twenty. 

THE EYE TEST

“[McLeod] has probably got the most pedigree, He’s an elite offensive player, his speed is high-end, his puck skills are elite and his ability to make things happen quickly is exciting”

– Courtsey of Sean Lafortune to the Toronto Star

“Michael McLeod is a very interesting player – he could go much higher than 13. You talk to different people around the league, they love his competitiveness. He’s an elite skater.” 

– Courtsey of TSN’s Craig Button

DOES HE FIT IN ON THE RED WINGS?

Absolutely. A highly praised two-way game, speed scouts cannot stop gushing over and exceptional playmaking abilities. He is quintessential Red Wings material but he’s also likely going to be off the board before they get to make their first selection. But this is the intriguing part, as we’ve already noted, he has shuffled up and down the rankings and while teams see the potential, he could maybe slip into the lap of the Red Wings. At the same time though he could just as likely sneak his way into the top ten and be long gone. If the Wings can catch a break or we get a defenseman heavy top ten, leaving the first round with McLeod would be a huge win for the Red Wings organization. While a guy can dream, I think we’re probably seeing a bit of a long shot here.