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.
Allan McShane has noticeably slowed down in production in the past few weeks. As a fourth-year OHL player — not an over-ager, but still one of the older, more experienced skaters in the league — his current production falls below expectations. Usually we see numbers well past the point-per-game mark for drafted players earning NHL contracts, and subsequently making an impact in the professional game.
The Oshawa Generals, who should be a dominant team in the league, have also performed in an up-and-down manner in the past few weeks. Their talented forward and resident giant, Serron Noel, is out with an injury. The team’s offensive production is mainly coming from over-ager Brett Neuman with top-six centre McShane going cold. In other words, the current situation is not what was hoped at the start of the season.
What’s bizarre when it comes to McShane is that I struggle to find reasons why he isn’t producing as much as he should. He doesn’t have Noel on his line to help him put up numbers, but he has proven in the past that he could drive offence by himself.
Watching his games, he looks like the same slippery dual-threat offensive player he was last year. He is still playing with the confidence that had him post a dominant stretch of 1.5 points per game at the end of last season; a dominant run he replicated at the start of October before only sporadically contributing on the scoresheet.
While he has always been touted as more of a playmaker, he is still capable of scoring every other game. His shot mechanics are strong. He can release in stride off either foot, and do so with smooth catch-and-release motions that barely leave any time for goalies to reposition.
His goal against the Ottawa 67’s last Saturday was a testament to his shooting ability. He snuck to the far blue line, came down behind the defender’s back, and receive a pass coming from the half-wall that he immediately fired at the net, slightly off-balance but still very precisely. The puck bounced off the inside post and into the net, finding the only available space in the goalie’s short-side coverage.
Allan McShane wears #61 with the Oshawa Generals.
It was a high-level play; a reminder of what McShane can do at the top of his game. He had another catch-and-release shot on the power play later that game, when he glided to the bumper position on the power play. Again, the puck was on and off his stick in a second. He aimed far-side this time, but the 67’s’ goalie managed to get his pad on it.
McShane has only nine goals since the start of the season. His shooting percentage has sunk from 17% in 2018-19 — his 34-goal season — to 13% this year. Last year’s rate feels closer to the “norm” for McShane. His talent as a shooter means he should be finding the back of the net at a higher pace, especially since he has been more consistently gaining the slot to fire, either by receiving passes, driving there with the puck, or roaming around the crease to find rebounds.
An encouraging sign for his overall game is that his play away from the puck seemed to have taken a step forward this year, not unlike fellow Habs centre prospect Samuel Houde in the QMJHL. Experience is the best teacher, and it seems to have done its work on McShane’s positioning in the defensive zone, specifically on his ability to stay below the puck and anticipate the rotation of the play.
In turn, strong defensive positioning has led him to be more involved in breakouts. From his often lower position, he can consistently support his winger on the walls by giving them a larger window to feed him passes as he skates up the length of the defensive zone.
In this breakout from the game versus Ottawa, McShane separates an attacker from the puck and then remains low in the zone to support his defenceman. The puck is rimmed up to his wing on the wall. McShane doesn’t gun out of the zone, but remains at the hash mark, patiently awaiting a return pass inside space to exit the zone with control.
It’s what he does next that is even more interesting: he voluntarily sends a bouncing pass up to his other winger accelerating through the neutral zone. The puck successfully makes it over a defensive stick and almost give his teammate a breakaway.
McShane is a creative offensive player. He finds ways to generate offence not many expect. This other assist from his game against Sudbury last week comes to mind:
He attacked a defender on a two-on-two and extended the puck wide to force a pokecheck. Instead of attempting a toe-drag or a slide inside a stick and skate like many others would do, he simply let the puck slide behind the opponent one way, went around the other way, and picked it back up in front of the goalie for a shot attempt. The rebound was converted by his teammate.
Overall, I don’t think McShane’s production is cause for worry. He has accustomed us to cold streaks and, if last year is any indication, he tends to move to another gear after the Christmas break. If anything, the eventual return of Serron Noel on his wing could only help them both break out.
CHL Weekly Stats
|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
|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
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||2||0||1||1|
|Cole Caufield||2019||RW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||2||2||0||2|
|Jayden Struble||2019||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||2||1||1||2|
|Jordan Harris||2018||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||2||0||0||0|
NCAA Season to date
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||14||1||1||2|
|Cole Caufield||2019||RW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||18||12||8||20|
|Jayden Struble||2019||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||14||2||3||5|
|Jordan Harris||2018||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||17||3||8||11|