Will New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow nab Michael McLeod with the nineteenth pick?
By the very nature of the game, hockey is a risky sport.
While no player is entirely risk-free, there are several that are close. One of those players is Michael McLeod, who’s poised to become an early- to mid- first-round pick at tomorrow’s NHL Draft.
McLeod, 18, hails from Mississauga, Ontario, competing for the OHL team situated in the same town. At 6-feet-2-inches, he’s an impressive physical specimen.
Tether that to his grit and determination, and teams will be garnering a legitimate competitor.
But that’s not what has impressed scouts the most.
Great vision and speed are two ingredients to a successful National Hockey League career. So is tremendous hockey sense and a natural ability to lead, something he utilized for a young Steelheads team.
Additionally, McLeod owns a well-rounded game. He rarely turns the puck over, is a stalwart in the defensive zone, and isn’t afraid to drive into corners or at the net.
“Low-risk, high-reward pick right here. McLeod was a leader on a young Steelheads team, plays a well-rounded game at both ends of the rink and will go anywhere to make something happen. Not shy to take the puck to the net and cut to the slot for a better lane.”
McLeod is a safe choice to play in the big leagues. But is that safety net what team’s are really looking for?
Allow me to elaborate.
Although he’s got the natural leadership skills, two-way prowess and excellent vision, McLeod has below-average hands and a lackluster shot. He also gets tunnel vision on the rush and has shown a tendency of being in the right place at the right time (which can be a positive, but also a negative due to an increase in speed at the professional level).
A league source told Elite Sports NY that unless his development completely derails, McLeod will be — at minimum — a third-line center.
However (and this is a legitimate caveat), assuming that McLeod will be an offensive threat is a gamble. It’s possible that he puts it all together, but more likely that his negatives (tunnel vision, below-average shot) will prevent him from becoming anything more than a 50-point scorer at the professional level.
McLeod is limited offensively. Is it worth picking him over someone with a higher offensive ceiling?
Isles general manager Garth Snow will have that choice tomorrow night.