Draft Watch: Ryan McLeod
Ryan McLeod – Forward
Weight: 190 lbs.
Current Team: Mississauga Steelheads
Regular Season Statline: 68 GP, 26 G, 44 A, 70 Pts, 26 PIM, -2
Playoff Statline: 6 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 Pts, 6 PIM, -4
Now that the Sharks season is at an end it’s time for the San Jose Sharks to look forward. The first big Calendar day for the Sharks is the NHL Draft in Dallas. The Sharks will pick 21st overall and this series will look at players the Sharks could take with that choice. Today we will look at Mississauga Steelheads center Ryan McLeod of the Ontario Hockey League.
What I Like
Ryan McLeod was really thrust into the thick of things at the start of the season. The Steelheads were without his brother Micheal McLeod (2016 12th overall, NJ) was injured at the Devils Training Camp. Their other major offensive dynamo Owen Tippett (2017 10th overall, FLA) got an audition with the Panthers to start the season. Ryan handled the pressure of suddenly being the guy very well. He would also return to a secondary role very well upon their return.
McLeod is one of the most complete two-way centers in the draft with a work ethic that makes him easy to appreciate. The part of McLeod’s game that has always impressed me most is his skating as he has excellent speed and acceleration as well as strong edgework. He can quickly change speeds effortlessly to create space for him to either move around defenders or open a passing lane. He also has excellent awareness on the defensive side of the puck as well. Head coach James Richmond often deployed McLeod’s line against the top lines of their opponents. McLeod also saw plenty of time on the penalty kill. He was also used heavily to win important draws on both ends of the ice.
On the downside is McLeod’s shot arsenal which leaves a little to be desired. While he takes accurate shots (especially his wrist shot) the power behind them is something he will need to work on as he progresses to the pro game. Fortunately for McLeod, this is somewhat mitigated by the fact he is a pass-first player.
NHL ETA and Upside
Having a late birthday he could find himself in the NHL sooner than some might suspect. With the Sharks looking to tie up a lot of money into their main core of players this could work to McLeod’s advantage as he could be looked to as a cheap bottom nine option. With his shot arsenal needing some work I don’t feel that this is a player that is going to project into a first line talent but could make for an excellent middle six option should he reach his full potential. While the upside may fall short of what you would want in a 1st round pick I feel that this is a player that will have a long NHL career.
Why He Makes Sense for San Jose
This is the kind of player that Tim Burke and Doug Wilson love in the early rounds. A responsible, smart, two-way center with a high floor but questions about the ceiling. He has a game that lends itself well to the type of players the team likes to develop and could find himself excelling at the wing down the road. This is a player with much higher upside than they usually reach for in the early rounds with a high probability of being a full-time NHL player sooner than later. If the Sharks are going to go with their typical type of player Ryan McLeod should be that guy.