Got down to Windsor on Saturday to eat ribs at the Penalty Box (OMG.... soooo good!) and check out the Spitfires play the Knights at the WFCU centre (aka the most annoying rink in the world to get to).
I've been to a few OHL games this season to see Big Mike play, so the chance to see two well rated Habs prospects such as Mike McCarron and Brady Vail go up against each other made this game attendance required for me.
I had never seen Vail play and only read some reports and seen some video of his play. I was expecting to see a speedy shit disturber with an offensive side. That's pretty much what I saw. He wasn't dominant offensively, but seemed to be able to move the puck out of the neutral zone and keep the offensive zone. Ok we need those guys, so keep on developing your game! He seemed to have a good view of the game, often avoiding incoming checks from players... eyes up... good. While not getting a point last night, his 12 points (7g, 5a) in 11 games is setting a good pace like last year. However, this year let's hope he keeps the pace up all year long instead of dropping out later in the season like he did last year.
McCarron on other hand played like he has been since joining the Knights. As a winger he takes those big long circles to ramp up speed and work towards the offensive zone and then you look at the play and it's going the opposite way he is... erm. He carried the puck into the zone a few times and lost the puck just as easily as he got it. He may be big, be he was not a factor at all last night. He plays on none of the special teams either. Hint, hint... Mike. He has 5 points in 9 games this year. Not horrible.
Sure I may be tough on McCarron seeing as he's got to adapt to the OHL system, but he's a first rounder and I'll always be harder on those guys because of that. You want the accolades of being a first rounder.... show us you deserved it. I am not saying there's no hope for Mike. Not at all. But he's showing that us that he will need time under the excellent tutelage of Dale Hunter to get this game matured and ready for the NHL.
As for comparing Brady Vail and Mike McCarron... you can't. They play different roles. Which is more ready for the NHL? Neither at this point. Vail will surely see time in the AHL before he can make the leap to the NHL, as he is 19 years old this year. McCarron is 18 years old, so he can spend at least another year in the OHL to get his game ready, but he's likely AHL bound as well. Not that there's anything wrong with that!