I’ve decided to do something new this year. I am going to give my take on the top prospects in the upcoming draft. I am going to start with the highly anticipated Connor McDavid. I’ve been watching some shift by shift footage of him and other prospects of late to find out more about them.
The first thing I noticed when I saw McDavid was his skill. From the outset, I could not see much wrong with his game. He is a great skater and has a lot of speed. I saw he had an ability to split the defense. He is a great passer and has very good vision, and he can score in a multitude of ways. His positioning is good. I understood all the hype around him.
Then I watched the footage a few more times and paid more attention. After awhile I also found myself unintentionally focusing on Dylan Strome, as he stood out more. I started finding a good amount of flaws in McDavid’s game when looking closely at the intangibles. One thing that began to frustrate me was how slow he was getting back on defense. The opposition would be setting up in the offensive zone and there would be only four Erie Otters on defense. I was asking myself, “Where’s McDavid?” After a few seconds, I finally see him glide into the zone. It seemed like he was waiting for his teammates to take the puck away and send him an outlet pass, which was the case a couple of times. He seems to almost always be the last man in, while I found Dylan Strome being the first man in. He has some good defensive skills, he just doesn’t seem to put enough effort on that end of the ice. He has his legs straight and his stick up most of the time.
Another thing I feel he needs to work on is his puck handling. He can make all these fancy dangles and dekes, but he can lose the puck pretty easily. He needs to make better decisions when it comes to this. While he has that ability to skate through the defense, I see way too often he coughs up the puck attempting to do so. I would pause the video right before he loses the puck and notice other options he had, whether it’s passing to a teammate or dumping the puck in.
The final problem I have with him is his lack of forechecking; I never see him battling for the puck along the boards, which goes back to the lack of effort defensively. He is definitely the most talented prospect out there, but is he the smartest? I’d say no. I do think he will be a star in the NHL with the amount of skill he has, especially offensively, but I don’t see him being as good as everyone is making him out to be. He will be a great fit for any team struggling offensively, which is about all of the bottom five teams.