When watching Jared McIsaac play defence, you can’t help but notice a bit of a throwback style emerge. While he doesn’t possess a Shea Weber-like slapshot, he focuses on keeping his end clean before joining in on the offence, and he’s not afraid to throw his body around.
That being said, it’s not all physical with McIsaac. He relies on applying pressure, forcing the opposing team to lose control of the puck with good stickwork and closing the gap to push them to the outside. With those two defensive strengths, he can easily fit into today’s NHL as a big, strong, two-way player.
Birthplace: Truro, Nova Scotia
Date of birth: March 2, 2000
Weight: 194 lbs.
Team: Halifax Mooseheads
The blue-liner’s biggest strength is his smooth skating ability. He has a long, flawless stride that’s difficult to beat on the rush, with strong mobility and acceleration in both directions. His edgework and pivots allow him to cover a large section of the ice, aiding in fluid transition in both offensive and defensive plays. Defensively, McIsaac is a reliable presence who is trusted by his teammates.
Offensively, McIsaac makes great decisions when in possession of the puck. His ability to remain patient allows him to keep control and protect the puck well while deciding on a play. He sees many options on zone exits, and when moving up the ice his short passes find their target nine out of 10 times thanks to his vision and excellent passing skills. He doesn’t hesitate to get himself into position to make a play or take a shot, and he distributes the puck well, making him the perfect quarterback during power plays.
McIsaac has had two successful seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads after being drafted second overall during the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft. Not only did he finish the 2016-17 season with 32 points (4G, 28A), he was on the QMJHL All-Star Team and voted QMJHL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The following year, he doubled his goals and surpassed his previous point total, reaching 47 points (9G, 38A). His draft season started with Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament gold and ended with being named one of the top three players on Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championship.
Rankings (not all rankings are final)
Future Considerations: #27
NHL Central Scouting: #13 (NA Skaters)
Hockey Prospects: #22
McIsaac has an incredible hockey sense and has proven that he works hard at being both an offensive and defensive player, is confident, and shows signs of maturity. Despite his impressive first two seasons with the Mooseheads, expectations for McIsaac are high, and they haven’t yet been fully met.
His biggest issue is consistency. He can exhibit exceptional skills one night and be average the following evening. He also has a tendency to fall out of position the longer he and his teammates are under attack on the ice.
Halifax’s coach, Jim Midgley, is already working with him on these points. Midgley coached McIsaac with the 2015 Nova Scotia U16 team at the Canada Winter Games, and the two have been together ever since.
“Jared wants to be better every day,” Midgley said. “He wants to work on his shot, he wants to improve his shot and the defensive side of [his game] too. It’s going to come. It’s a process. We understand that, and we’re doing our best to get him better.”
Even though McIsaac still has work to do in order to perfect his game, his strengths already outweigh his weaknesses. He’s one of nine defenceman given an A rating from NHL Central Scouting on the preliminary “Players to Watch” list for the 2018 NHL Draft, projecting him as a first-round pick.
While McIsaac may not be ready for the NHL just yet, he’s already displaying the skills necessary to make it as a top-four defenceman in the big leagues.