The Devils made the rather odd move of trading down one pick in the first round but still picked up a good talent in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
General Manager Ray Shero made a deal with the Ottawa Senators to exchange the 11th overall pick for the 12th overall pick and the 80th overall pick (3rd round).
While Ottawa selected centerman Logan Brown at 11, the Devils went a similar route, picking center Michael McLeod from the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
He is an 18-year-old 6-foot 2-inch 188-pound native of Mississauga, Ontario. According to his profile on NHL.com, he finished second in team scoring on the Steelheads with 61 points – 21 goals and 40 assists (behind Alexander Nylander, who was selected before McLeod by the Buffalo Sabres at number 8). In the OHL playoffs, he had 3 goals, 6 assists for 9 points (which included two three point games) as the Steelheads bowed out to Mackenzie Blackwood’s Barrie Colts.
His skating ability is being highly touted, which is understandable since he was coached on the Greater Toronto Hockey League’s Toronto Marlboros (Midget level youth hockey) by Paul Coffey, a Hall of Famer who is widely regarded as one of the smoothest skaters to ever play the game.
He represented Canada in the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and had 2 goals and 2 assists for four points in five games played. In addition, he represented Canada in the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
NHL Central Scouting’s Dan Marr said about McLeod: “He has great quickness and speed, is smart and skilled but also very reliable. A coach can put him out in any situation and feel comfortable. His speed allows him to create offense off the rush, making him very difficult to defend.”
Some interesting notes via NHL.com include that his older brother, Matthew played for Canisius College last season and his younger brother, Ryan, also played for the Mississauga Steelheads. Another note is that he wears the jersey number 9 because his mother’s favorite player was the late, great Gordie Howe.
So what the Devils are getting is a playmaker with speed. He is the kind of offensive player who the Devils need, although it could be a season or two before he suits up in a New Jersey Devils uniform. The scouting report mentions that a coach can put him in any situation. So he works well on the power play and the penalty kill, which is where his reliability comes from.
We will see where this takes McLeod and the Devils. Will he pan out? It is irresponsible to put all of the Devils’ offensive problems on his shoulders. He will be one of a cast of players that the Devils bring in to help with that need. But you always want to see these guys make it. Hopefully the deal the Devils made will work out in the long run.
Tomorrow brings the later rounds of the Draft and the Devils still have nine more picks (including the one they just acquired from Ottawa tonight) so we will see just where the pieces fall.