Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2016 Draft Articles Click here.
Michael McLeod is the first prospect from a family we can expect to hear a lot from over the next several NHL drafts. He plays on the Mississauga Steelheads along with his younger brother Ryan, who is expected to be a highly sought after prospect in the 2018 NHL draft. Michael plays on the Steelheads top line, and also takes big minutes on the powerplay and the penalty kill. He put up 21 goals and 61 points in 57 games this season, and added three goals and nine points in Mississauga’s first round loss to the Barrie Colts in the OHL playoffs. McLeod also has international experience. He was part of Team Canada’s gold medal winning squad at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament, and is expected to be part of the country’s Under-18 team for this spring’s world championship tournament. McLeod and his Canadian teammates will look to go to North Dakota and repeat the success from last summer’s Hlinka.
Edit: Scouting these players is an ongoing process, and McLeod was disappointing in the Under 18, as he was unable to generate much from an offensive perspective in the tournament. Given the closeness of the rankings going into the tournament, and the fact that he was greatly outshone by both Tyson Jost and Logan Brown, we have re-adjusted the rankings, and McLeod has slipped five spots.
Michael McLeod Scouting Report: 2016 NHL Draft #14
Centre — shoots Right
Born Feb 3 1998 — Mississauga, ONT
Height 6’02” — Weight 187 lbs [188 cm/85 kg]
McLeod is an absolute speedster, with great top end speed and outstanding acceleration. McLeod might be the fastest skater in this entire draft- he’s that fast. On top of that he has excellent agility, and the ability to change directions quickly. McLeod uses his skating ability to its full advantage to elude defenders and open up passing and shooting lanes when working off the rush, or even when playing the cycle game. McLeod has good size and is strong on his skates, which is a great asset in working along the boards and in front of the net.
McLeod shows strong passing skills and excellent vision. He makes strong, tape-to-tape passes both off the rush and in the cycle game. McLeod has a good release on his wrist shot, however it lacks power. It can be improved with a little bit more muscle being packed on to his frame. He needs to use his shot more often though, as he can sometimes get caught up looking for the pass instead of taking good shooting opportunities. Added to a non-stop motor to go along with his strong skating, McLeod also shows the willingness and ability to get in quickly on the forecheck. He pressures defenders and creates turnovers and mistakes, which then create offence for himself and his linemates. He gets into the dirty areas, whether that be battling for pucks in the corner, or establishing position in front of the net.
Mcleod is also able to provide great support on the backcheck. As a 17-year-old, he’s developing such a strong two-way game that the Steelheads match him against the other teams top lines, and use him to kill penalties. He brings his grit and tenacity in all three zones, being strong along the boards and playing a physical brand of defence. McLeod reads the play extremely well, and provides defensive support where it is needed. He is strong positionally, and more than willing to sacrifice his body at the defensive end.
It is doubtful that McLeod will be NHL ready next season, however he has the skills to be a top notch two-way centre ice man in time. He will need to further refine his offensive game, and should work on that with Mississauga next season. If that can happen he can even be a first liner, though its more likely that McLeod is a second line centre who can kill penalties and play against the other teams top line, while also producing points. Right now Mcleod looks like he has all the skills you want from a player in both ends of the rink. His style (not potential or talent) is similar to Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks, without the great shot.
The following is a compilation of youtube videos featuring McLeod.
Check back tomorrow to see our #10 prospect on our draft board.