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The sixth overall pick of the 2016 USHL Draft, Blake McLaughlin played limited games as a 16-year-old with the Chicago Steel, choosing to finish another year of High School Hockey. He played 11 regular season games and one playoff game as the Steel won the Clark Cup, but was very much an afterthought. This year, he really made his presence known in the USHL though. McLaughlin scored 23 goals and 29 assists for 52 points in 54 games. He also added three goals and seven points in seven playoff games. It is likely that this will be his only big year in the USHL though, as McLaughlin is set to join the University of Minnesota next season.
McLaughlin has also represented the United States at the international level. He put up two goals and an assist in four games at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He also played at the World Junior A Hockey Championships, picking up four assists in five games for Team USA. McLaughlin also participated in the All-American Top Prospect game last fall.
His step-father, Grant Bischoff also played for the University of Minnesota. As did step-brother Jake Bischoff. Jake is a prospect with the Vegas Golden Knights organization after originally being drafted by the New York Islanders.
Blake McLaughlin Scouting Report
Left Wing/Centre — shoots Left
Born February 14th, 2000 — Grand Rapids, Minnesota
Height 6’0″ — Weight 162 lbs [183 cm / 73 kg]
McLaughlin is a very good skater. His top speed is good, as is his acceleration. He can beat a defenceman wide, and cut to the net. It also helps him to be one of the first players in on the forecheck, causing issues for defenders and creating turnovers. Laughlin has good edgework and agility, and can cut quickly to get away from a defender. He could stand to work on his lower body strength and balance though. McLaughlin is pushed off the puck a bit too much at this stage. Adding muscle to a slight frame could help in this area.
McLaughlin has an outstanding wrist shot and a quick release. He can beat goaltenders with his shot off the rush, and from the top of the faceoff circles. He also has an excellent one-timer. If there is a criticism though, he sometimes becomes overreliant on his shot, trying to force things from too far out or bad angles if his team is down. McLaughlin has the height and the hand-eye coordination to get to the front of the net and be a menace in tight but needs to work on his muscle mass. He can be pushed around a bit too much, and this will be an issue at higher levels.
McLaughlin also has strong vision and playmaking ability. He sees the openings and can get the pass-through tight areas. He isn’t the most creative stick handler and does not beat defenceman often one-on-one, but he can protect the puck and moves it very quickly and effectively to create passing and shooting lanes. McLaughlin is more creative in how he moves the puck, then in dangling a defenceman. He will make a saucer pass over multiple sticks, or throw a behind-the-back backhand right onto a teammates tape. McLaughlin needs to be more consistent. There were some viewings where he looked like the best player on the ice, and others where he was invisible.
McLaughlin works to support his defence with backpressure. He is effective in pressuring attacking forwards, creating turnovers and quickly moving the puck up the ice. He also is willing to battle on the boards and against the cycle game. Once again, his two biggest issues are muscle mass, and the fact that this effort level can be inconsistent from game to game.
Projection and Comparison
McLaughlin will be well-served to go the NCAA route with the University of Minnesota. Fewer games and more time available for the weight room should help him to bulk up. He will also get the opportunity to work under Bob Motzko, one of the country’s best coaches and should learn how to be consistent night in and night out. McLaughlin’s game is reminiscent of Anze Kopitar but this is a style comparison only, and not one based on ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages of McLaughlin that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
BUFFALO, NY – SEPTEMBER 21: Blake McLaughlin #10 of Team Leetch skates with the puck in the second period against Team Chelios during the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at the KeyBank Center on September 21, 2017, in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)