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 2020 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 Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Connor McClennon.
Drafted second overall in the 2017 WHL Draft, Connor McClennon made an instant impact as the Winnipeg (formerly Kootenay) Ice rebuild. He put up 14 goals and 29 points in 46 games as a rookie. This past year, he improved with 21 goals and 28 assists for 49 points in 42 games. He also served as an alternate captain with Winnipeg.
The Wainwright, Alberta native has also made an impact on the International stage. Playing for Team Canada White, he was outstanding at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. McClennon scored eight goals and 11 points in just five tournament games. He led the tournament in both goals and points, and was named to the tournament All-Star Team. McClennon also represented Canada at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. He scored one goal and two points in five games and helped the team to a silver medal.
In 2017-18, McClennon led Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep to the CSSHL title. He scored 26 goals and 67 points in 33 regular-season games. He also added four goals and 11 points in five playoff games. McClennon also scored six goals and 10 points in five games for Alberta at the WHL Cup, finishing second.
Connor McClennon Scouting Report
Right Wing — Shoots Right
Born June 25th, 2002 — Wainwright, Alberta
Height 5’8″ — Weight 163 lbs [173 cm/74 kg]
An undersized winger, McClennon makes up for it with outstanding skating. He is an absolute speedster. He has a great first step and outstanding acceleration. McClennon creates issues on the rush with his ability to get behind defenders both with and without the puck. His edgework and agility are also very good. McClennon is able to move very well laterally. His turns are sharp and he accelerates out of them. With his low centre of gravity, McClennon is stronger on the puck than one would expect given his lack of size. He has the balance to fight through checks and battle for loose pucks. As he gets stronger, this should get even better.
McClennon also has excellent hands and can use quick moves along with his changes in direction to create space and open up passing and shooting lanes. He is smart and makes the right plays with the puck on his stick. McClennon is a pure goal scorer, with an excellent arsenal of shots. His wrist and snapshots are very accurate and feature quick releases. His quick hands can change the angle on the release right before he shoots. McClennon also gets good power on his shot. He can also score with a backhand and one-timer. His ability to get the puck up quickly on both his forehand and backhand allows him to score goals in tight to the net.
While mainly a goal scorer, McClennon can also play the role of a playmaker. He has good vision and can set up teammates for scoring chances. He can make passes through tight lanes. McClennon can also make a quick dangle or move laterally to open up a passing lane. McClennon needs to add weight to his frame and improve his strength going forward but this is common for a 17-year-old. This will make him more effective in board battles. McClennon also has a bit of a tendency to play a perimeter game. He could stand to get the puck to the dirty areas of the ice more often to succeed at the next level.
McClennon is often used by the Ice on the penalty kill. His quickness and smart positioning allows him to be in passing lanes and intercept passes. His quick stick is also very good at stealing the puck from his opponents. McClennon takes good angles in providing backpressure against the transition game. He works to support the defence down low against the cycle, but his lack of size can be an issue. If a turnover is created, McClennon can move the puck up the ice quickly in transition.
Projection and Comparison
McClennon is a boom or bust prospect. His lack of size makes it unlikely that he will be able to play a bottom-line role in the NHL. It’s likely that he needs to play in a scoring role or he will not make the league. While small players like Paul Byron have made it in lower line roles, they also play a more robust style than McClennon does. While he is undersized, it’s possible that he could develop into that scoring winger if things go well. He will need to add muscle to his frame without losing any of his speed and skill. He also needs to play a bit more in the dirty areas of the ice. McClennon’s game is reminiscent of Clayton Keller but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Connor McClennon that are available on youtube and twitter.
The @hc_wu17 is underway this week and includes an incredible amount of PEP talent. There are 41 PEP trained players at the event including the tournament's leading scorer Connor McClennon who scored these two beauties against Team USA! #ReThinkYourTraining pic.twitter.com/aRlAzy0jT9
— Power Edge Pro (@PEPHockey) November 6, 2018
Connor McClennon scored what will end up being one of the top goals of the #WorldU17. Blocks a shot, gets up, beats out Jake Sanderson on the rush, gets taken down and scores on his knees to make it 5-2 Canada, his third goal of the night. #WorldU17 pic.twitter.com/4a4mWRNNBQ
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) November 6, 2018
Connor McClennon strips JL Foudy, Cole Perfetti then makes a great pass to McClennon and he finishes it to give Canada White the OT victory over Black. What a game, what a play. All eligible for the #2020NHLDraft#WorldU17 pic.twitter.com/LwNWQQfuLh
— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) November 4, 2018
Krebs undresses the rebels to feed McClennon the goal!
— Winnipeg ICE (@WHLWpgICE) January 12, 2020
Connor McClennon trickles the puck in and takes the lead for @WHLWpgICE
WPG 1 | REG 0 pic.twitter.com/DT1FUpk2c6
— AccessNow Sports (@AccessNowSports) December 15, 2019
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Connor McClennon Main Photo:
EVERETT, WASHINGTON – NOVEMBER 16: Winnipeg Ice forward Connor McClennon #94 skates with the puck in the third period during a game against the Everett Silvertips at Angel of the Winds Arena on November 16, 2019 in Everett, Washington. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)