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2018 NHL Draft prospect profile: Ryan McLeod is a serious centre contender

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If McLeod can up his intensity, he’s well on his way to becoming a top-six centre.

Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Since being drafted third overall by the Flint Firebirds in the OHL Priority Selection in 2015, Ryan McLeod has done nothing but improve his game. During his first season in the OHL, played with the Mississauga Steelheads after he was acquired for six draft picks, McLeod tallied a modest 20 points (7G, 13A) in 62 games. The following season, he more than doubled his points, coming in at 42 (9G, 33A), and really stepped it up for the playoffs, racking up a point-per-game average in 20 playoff games.

As impressive a growth spurt as that was, it‘s nothing compared to his 2017-18 season. In 68 games during his draft year, he contributed 70 points (26G, 44A). When his team made it to the playoffs for the third year in a row, McLeod came up one short of replicating his point-per-game form, with five points in six games.

It‘s safe to say his development is coming along nicely.

Birthplace: Mississauga, Ontario
Date of birth: September 21, 1999
Shoots: Left
Position: Centre
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Image credit: EliteProspects

With a September birthday, McLeod was close to being eligible for last year’s draft. But that extra season in the OHL is making his case that much stronger.

His hockey IQ and playmaking skills has him shining over many other players in his draft class. He has an accurate shot, and his ability to find an open player is something he excels at. If you look closer at his impressive points, it’s easy to see that McLeod is more of a passer than a scorer. Just imagine the damage he could do if he worked on his already decent wristshot. He already has a quick release that’s proven to be very precise, so let’s put a little extra power behind it and see what happens.

McLeod‘s edgework and ability to make quick cuts leaves his opponents chasing their tails. His long, powerful stride gets him to top speed in no time, which is why he‘s ranked as one of the fastest skaters in the OHL. He has excellent balance, can close gaps quickly, and wins battles along the boards.

That speed combined with his stickhandling and passing skills helps McLeod create chances off the rush. His ability to change up the pace by accelerating past the defence, slowing down to create lanes, or going wide on the rush is why his offensive game is so strong.

As with his offensive game, McLeod’s skating skills is what helps him pick up loose pucks, create turnovers and cut down passing lanes. While he rarely uses his body to gain position, he’s not afraid to use his big build to block shots. Once he succeeds in getting the puck is in his team’s possession, he can quickly switch back to offense.

Rankings

Future Considerations: #23
Hockey Prospect: #46
ISS Hockey: #26
McKeen’s Hockey: #29
NHL Central Scouting: #16 (NA Skaters)

Thoughts

McLeod has been switched back and forth between centre and wing (let’s hope he doesn’t develop an Alex Galchenyuk complex) due to his lack of intensity. If he can kick his drive up a notch, he has the promise to move to a full-time center.

He’s already a great two-way player and an essential part of both the power play and penalty kill. His weakest asset is his shot, which is already pretty darn accurate. By upping the intensity in both his shots and overall play, McLeod is a serious contender to become a top-six centre at the NHL level.