Not too long ago, we covered Logan Stankoven, who is one of the better pure shooters in this class. A name not mentioned in that piece that is in that argument as well is Mason McTavish. Similar to Stankoven, he displays a high-end goal-scoring ability. He brings much more to the table than that. What else does he bring?
Mason McTavish Prospect Deep Dive
What The Experts Are Saying About Mason McTavish
Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey: “McTavish should be back in the OHL next season as he needs a bit more development before he is ready to go to the NHL. It could even be a couple of years and some time in the AHL. However, once he makes the league, he should be a reliable forward who can be used in all situations.”
Frankie Benvenuti of The Hockey Writers: “McTavish is not just big, he’s also supremely talented. For a big player, he can skate, making him all the more dangerous. Add that to his good passing, shooting, hands and intelligence and you have a player that is the complete package offensively.”
Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst: “McTavish is a dual-threat in that he can be just as effective a setup man as he can be a finisher. His Cy Young-Esque goals to assist totals in league play may say otherwise, but McTavish has the instincts, vision, and hands to be a true center who can make any member in his unit a scoring option. But make no mistake about it — McTavish loves to shoot and owns an elite shot-release combination. He can absolutely wire it and he doesn’t need the perfect conditions to go from pass receipt to shot execution in the blink of an eye. McTavish is more than willing to battle for net-front superiority or tire out checkers by starting and stopping throughout an entire offensive-zone possession. As already mentioned, McTavish’s office clearly is the expanded slot from between the faceoff dots and below the hash marks.”
Mason McTavish Draft Profile
McTavish, born January 30th, 2003, is an 18-year-old center, who played for EHC Olten in the Swiss league. The Zurich, Switzerland native stands at 6’2” and 207 pounds. He has been ranked as early as 5th, by Elite Prospects, and as late as 32nd by Smaht Scouting. Elite Prospects consolidated rankings have McTavish ranked 14th. Personally, I have McTavish ranked 21st.
Playing in the Swiss league this season, McTavish recorded nine goals and two assists for 11 points in 13 games. With the OHL not having played a single game this season, McTavish was forced down the European league route, similar to players like Carson Lambos and Brandt Clarke. Last season, in the OHL with the Peterborough Petes, McTavish recorded 23 goals and 13 assists for 42 points in 57 games.
Mason McTavish has a really good technical stride. He displays really strong knee bend, getting low and generating power. His ankle flexion is also good, as he keeps his knees over his toes consistently, on his lead foot. His strides are long and wide, and he displays strong extension and power when pushing off his back foot. When it comes to accelerating, McTavish generates a lot of power through his cross-overs and can reach his top speed rather quickly. McTavish may not have that extra gear to break away from defenders, but his top speed is still above average.
McTavish, as mentioned earlier, does not have that breakaway speed. However, while he lacks somewhat in that department, he makes up for it in his exceptional lower-body strength. McTavish can power through checks and remain balanced, while also showing the explosion to force his way past a defender. Also, McTavish displays smooth edges when needed. While he is more of a power skater than a smooth one, he has the ability to show off his more finesse style of skating. He can open his hips cleanly and change directions seamlessly. McTavish does not lose speed when turning, either, and he provides deception with his ability to change directions.
Mason McTavish’s Transitional Abilities
Mason McTavish is a very up-and-down transitional player. For one, in the games I tracked at the U18 World Juniors, McTavish was not very involved. Connor Bedard drove the transition for his line, along with Stankoven. When he did get involved, he combined to have more dumps, clears, icings and fails than he did possessional exits or entries. Effectively, McTavish has displayed some issues in the transitional aspect of the game.
For exiting the defensive zone, McTavish cleared the puck with possession on 35.71% of his exit attempts, the worst mark among tracked players. As for entering the offensive zone, McTavish entered with possession on 55% of his attempts.
When it comes to exiting the defensive zone, McTavish doesn’t particularly look for a possessional exit. His main focus is getting the puck out of the defensive zone by any means necessary. That isn’t a problem by any means, and for a young player, it can be looked at as a positive. However, when it comes to entering the offensive zone, issues arise. McTavish does not force or rush entries, which is fine. Instead, he doesn’t really scan the ice and look over options, instead opting to just chip the puck ahead and hope to win the race. His transitional play is reliant solely on his forechecking abilities, which are good, but not consistently good enough to make a strong impact.
Mason McTavish is well known for his shooting ability, as stated several times to this point. His shot features a ton of power behind it. It also features pinpoint accuracy. His shot is very nearly NHL-ready. In the three tracked games, McTavish fired 11 shots, with nine hitting the net. Of those 11 shots, five of them came from the slot, with two of them finding the back of the net. Early in the season, McTavish had a glaring issue, at least to me, in his shot selection. He would fire shots instead of making a simple pass, and have that shot get blocked or end their offensive zone attack. In this tournament, he did a much better job picking his spots.
McTavish is also a very good playmaker, at times. In the three games tracked, he attempted 27 passes in the offensive zone, completing 21 of them (77.78% accuracy). Of the 27 pass attempts, 10 of them were directed towards high-danger areas. He also attempted 17 passes that were deemed “simple” passes and cycle passes. That’s to say, McTavish had a healthy mix of dangerous passes and possession passes, and he completed a lot of them.
Mason McTavish’s Offensive Style
McTavish makes a home in the slot. Off rushes and when possession is established, he attacks the middle without the puck. With the puck, he’ll stay in the perimeter but work the puck into the slot in some way. If he can’t, he will turn back and then position himself there instead.
Mason McTavish plays a power game, battling for net-front superiority and getting to the corners and behind the net to engage in puck battles. He finds success with that style right now, as he is much stronger than players his own age. As he grows and attempts to make an NHL roster, he must continue to bulk up. But every team needs a Mason McTavish forward on their lineups.
Defensive Zone Ability
With players like Mason McTavish, generally, you wouldn’t expect a very good defensive zone game. However, that’s simply not true. He plays in the defensive zone the same way he plays in the offensive zone. When the puck is down low, McTavish will be right there in the corners or in front of the net, battling for positioning. His aggressive style includes him throwing heavy hits along the boards to separate his opponents from the puck.
McTavish displays a willingness to step into shooting lanes to block shots. He also has a strong stick, and he knows how to effectively block and intercept passes. In the neutral zone especially, McTavish is extremely efficient at intercepting passes and starting up counter-attacks. The one issue with his aggressive style is that he doesn’t have great defensive zone positioning. He’s all over the defensive zone with no true organization. It isn’t necessarily an issue, but if he could reel in his aggressiveness just a bit and becomes more positionally disciplined, it could further improve his effectiveness.
Mason McTavish’s NHL Comparison and Potential
Mason McTavish plays a heavy game that is valued highly by old-school fans, while simultaneously playing fast-paced and exciting hockey. He is a dual-threat in the offensive zone, though he still needs some fine-tuning on his vision with the puck and his shot selection. McTavish already began improving in those areas as the season wore on, so there shouldn’t be many concerns about that moving forward. That said, he has the upside to become a first-line forward, likely on the wing. A safer projection is as a second-line center or winger, as he has the versatility to move around. His two-way game gives him a relatively safe floor.
As for a comparison, McTavish reminds me a lot of Josh Anderson, stylistically only and not based on how he projects to become. They’re both bigger bodies that play a heavy game, getting into the dirty areas and heavily involved in puck battles. Anderson also shoots the puck a ton, and according to CJ Turtoro’s A3Z Performance tool, he shoots more than 95% of the rest of the league. McTavish may have reeled in the number of shots he takes, but he will always be a true goal-scorer and trigger man, especially on a powerplay. In his career, Anderson has more goals than assists and has finished all but three of his seasons with more assists. Based on his current production in his developmental years, it looks as though McTavish could take a similar path.