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Catching The Torch: Allan McShane takes another step forward

McShane steps up his production and lands second in points for the Oshawa Generals.

Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Montreal Canadiens prospects playing at the Junior (OHL, QMJHL, WHL, BCHL, USHL) and collegiate (NCAA) level.

The Oshawa Generals had the weekend off, which is rare in the OHL. Teams usually play either on Saturday or Sunday, and frequently on both days.

Weeknight games might just be the recipe for success for Allan McShane, as he went off with four points combined in two games. It was either that or playing the rebuilding Kingston Frontenacs, a contest in which he put up two goals and an assist. The return of surely missed teammate Serron Noël from injury probably also played a role.

One way or another, it was a welcome step forward in production for him, and it gave us plenty of examples of the main quality that makes him so interesting as a Habs prospect.

McShane makes great decisions in close quarters. He thinks quickly and executes just as fast. His precise and economical puck-handling allows him to react at this high speed. But more than his hands, it's his spatial awareness that allows him to come out on top in situations where many of his counterparts would need to make a desperate play, dump the puck or lose it.

The sequence below is one of the best I've seen from any Habs prospect this season. It was not an eye-popping dangle or a top-net goal from a hard release from afar, but simply a bunch of difficult plays under pressure chained together. He managed to keep the offence alive by supporting or stopping plays in timely ways.

Allan McShane wears #61 with the Oshawa Generals

The sequence started when McShane picked up the puck on the boards. He evaded a defender on his back with a tight turn and, seeing a teammate accelerate to the slot, he sent a backhand feed to him.

Now, there was no way for the centreman to connect directly with the stick of Noël since he was closely covered so McShane did the next best thing. Sliding the puck past the stick of the defender, into space for Noël to skate into and get a scoring chance alone with the goalie.

The play wasn't made in a practice, controlled setting. McShane anticipated the net-drive, and had about a quarter of a second to identify the right spot in which to move the puck. He nailed the high-speed triangulation.

Unfortunately, the chance was missed and the puck changed hands. Opponents looked to get out of the zone but who was there to immediately stop them? You guessed right. McShane.

Noël angled the breakout up the boards, and McShane cut the exit lane. He didn't tentatively do it by flailing his stick at the rimmed puck, instead he rammed it behind on the boards and jammed his skates on it, too, turning into a wall against the play of the opposing defencemen. The puck bounced off of him and he immediately sent it behind the net to Noël.

McShane repositioned to the slot, Noël returned a pass but out of reach of his centreman. So McShane deflected the puck with his skate up to his stick to shoot at the net.

Three times the centreman made a play with barely any space to do so and created two scoring chances out of it. It’s the kind of talent that projects very well to the professional game, where you continuously need to connect teammates through defenders closing in on you.

For those specific abilities, McShane was also moved from the half-wall to the bumper position on the power play. The bumper is the core of the power play, often it’s more important piece to keep the flow of the puck and find dangerous looks.

McShane can shoot surrounded by opposing players. He scored once against the Frontenac by bringing the puck backhand forehand and into the net in one swift motion. He did the exact opposite for his second goal, lifting a shot with the reverse side of his blade up above the goalie’s shoulder.

He can also act as a distributor from the bumper, connecting a play between two teammates on the periphery. The simple act of moving the puck up to him first collapses the defensive formation onto him, freeing space for his teammates to threaten from the outside lanes of the zone.

Lastly, he picked up another assist against the Kitchener Rangers by taking advantage of a net-front scrum to take the puck, circle the net and send it back in front to Nico Gross who didn’t miss at the doorstep.

McShane has proved to be a great contributor to the effective power play of the Oshawa Generals, converting at 24.6 % since the start of the season. Three of his four points from last week were obtained on the man advantage.

The remaining assist was a pass to Ty Tullio, who sniped the puck above the goalie’s shoulder. It wasn’t the most spectacular pass from McShane, but it still featured his use of ten-and-two skating, or ‘‘mohawk”, which is a common tool in his game. It allows him to keep his body in front of the whole play to better identify passing options.

Allan McShane is up to 30 points in 27 games, second on his team behind the 35 points of Brett Neuman.

CHL Weekly Stats

Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard 2019 LW QMJHL Chicoutimi 3 1 5 6
Samuel Houde 2018 C QMJHL Chicoutimi 3 2 2 4
Cam Hillis 2018 C OHL Guelph 3 2 2 4
Allan McShane 2018 C OHL Oshawa 2 2 2 4
Jacob LeGuerrier 2019 LD OHL Sault Ste Marie 3 0 1 1
Cole Fonstad 2018 LW WHL Everett Silvertips 4 2 4 6
Gianni Fairbrother 2019 LD WHL Everett Silvertips 4 0 1 1
Kieran Ruscheinski 2019 LD BCHL Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3 0 0 0

CHL Season to date

Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard 2019 LW QMJHL Chicoutimi 31 15 23 38
Samuel Houde 2018 C QMJHL Chicoutimi 31 15 27 42
Cam Hillis 2018 C OHL Guelph 26 10 29 39
Allan McShane 2018 C OHL Oshawa 27 11 19 30
Jacob LeGuerrier 2019 LD OHL Sault Ste Marie 27 2 13 15
Cole Fonstad 2018 LW WHL Everett Silvertips 25 5 26 31
Gianni Fairbrother 2019 LD WHL Everett Silvertips 25 4 16 20
Kieran Ruscheinski 2019 LD BCHL Salmon Arm Silverbacks 30 0 3 3

NCAA Weekly Stats

Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Jack Gorniak 2018 LW Big Ten Wisconsin 2 0 1 1
Cole Caufield 2019 RW Big Ten Wisconsin 2 2 0 2
Brett Stapley 2018 C NCHC Denver 2 0 1 1
Jayden Struble 2019 LD Hockey East Northeastern 2 1 1 2
Jordan Harris 2018 LD Hockey East Northeastern 2 0 0 0
Rhett Pitlick 2019 LW USHL Muskegon 0 0 0 0

NCAA Season to date

Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Player Draft Pos League Team GP G A P
Jack Gorniak 2018 LW Big Ten Wisconsin 14 1 1 2
Cole Caufield 2019 RW Big Ten Wisconsin 18 12 8 20
Brett Stapley 2018 C NCHC Denver 15 3 7 10
Jayden Struble 2019 LD Hockey East Northeastern 14 2 3 5
Jordan Harris 2018 LD Hockey East Northeastern 17 3 8 11
Rhett Pitlick 2019 LW USHL Muskegon 20 5 9 14