Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Habs prospects playing at the junior (OHL, WHL), collegiate (USHL, NCAA), and professional (ECHL) level.
Allan McShane recorded a pair of assists on Sunday for the Oshawa Generals, in a sloppy scoring fest that ended with a 7-5 victory over the North Bay Battalion.
The greatest quality of the prospect is his poise. He doesn’t rush his next move when he has possession and doesn’t get rid of the puck if he can find a good outlet. Instead, he looks to make the best play possible, often focusing the full attention of the opposition on himself to free his teammates as passing options.
But in Sunday’s game, he sometimes went a bit too far and caused turnovers, forcing plays that weren’t there as the last man back, and in his own end, trying to reach his teammates under heavy forechecking pressure.
That being said, he made up for his early turnovers by contributing to his team’s offence with his exceptional playmaking ability.
His first assist was a play behind the net. On the forecheck, his teammate was attacking the defender while he followed closely as the supporting forward. The puck sprung loose from the pressure applied; he jumped on it, established body positioning with a well-timed hit, and immediately passed the puck to the front of the net for the open third man higher in the zone who he tied the game at 3.
The physical element isn’t really part of McShane’s game, but this was a sequence where he used it well to complement his talent as a setup man. Getting in front of the opponent on the retrieval and using his shoulder to block access to the puck allowed him to pull off his play.
His second assist of the night was another display of his great poise.
He first created a turnover in the offensive zone, getting to one knee to immediately fire the puck on net upon stealing it, almost surprising the goalie with the speed of his release. Then, he backtracked following a change of possession.
He found the puck once again in his zone and carried it through the neutral zone. He could have attacked the middle of the ice to create different options for the attacking rush, but stuck to the outside lane, going wide on the defender.
At this point, he pigeon-holed himself to one option: he was too far out for a shot, and had to make a pass. The defender on his side of the ice also knew this, but with the vision and the creativity of McShane, it didn’t really matter in the end.
The Generals had the numerical advantage with four men against two defenders, plus a backchecking forward. There were multiple pass options for the Habs prospect and he used that to his benefit.
While still moving through the offensive zone, he opened up his skates, going ten-and-two, and faked a pass to a trailing teammate, misdirecting the backchecking forward in his coverage and opening up the pass option to the slot he always wanted to use.
The goal that ensued put the Generals ahead for the first time in the game.
There were many more occasions that night when McShane could have written his name on the scoresheet, notably a sequence where he was wide open as a pass and sure-goal option for Jack Studnicka, who unfortunately didn’t see him.
In the next few weeks, with a little more luck, the points should start to come more and more for the fourth-rounder.
Allan McShane wears #61 with the Oshawa Generals
Josh Brook #2, RD, Moose Jaw Warriors
Brook had another solid showing when Moose Jaw faced Regina on Sunday, and now has four points in three games. He seems poised for another great start to the season.
Late in the first period versus the Pats, Brook fired multiple shots on a power play. They didn’t go in, but created rebounds that kept coming back to the sticks of surrounding Warrior players, who continued to feed the defenceman’s shot.
The game-winning goal came with a change of tactic. Instead of firing directly at the net, Brook tried another of the plays in his arsenal. He wound up while skating to the slot and, aimed for the stick of his teammate right at the doorstep for a deflection. The puck finally went in.
The fake release was sold very well with a weight shift and Brook stepping into his shot-pass.
When he is given the space in the offensive zone, the defenceman doesn’t hesitate to use it to create more dangerous play.
Another example of this is the great chance Brook made happen for a teammate in the second period. He jumped up from the blue line, challenged a defender, squeaked by him, and pulled off another move against a second one. Then in a 2-on-0 situation, Brook slid the puck over across the net, again trying for a deflection goal. Unfortunately, the netminder made a great save.
Of course, these aren’t plays Brook will be able to pull off as much at the NHL level. Defenders are better and, while he is a good stick-handler, he isn’t talented enough one-on-one to beat multiple opponents like this consistently in the top league.
But what stands out in his play is his confidence.
It’s one thing to worry about what part of his offensive game will translate to the NHL — most of it could — but it’s more important to see the mindset behind his attempts.
Josh Brook is playing up to the level he can right now and it’s a good sign. Now he needs to do what he couldn’t last season and continue to build on it.
Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for daily prospect updates.
CHL season to date
|Nick Suzuki||2017||C/RW||OHL||Owen Sound||3||3||3||6|
|Cole Fonstad||2018||LW||WHL||Prince Albert||6||3||5||8|
|Josh Brook||2017||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||3||2||2||4|