The 2011 draft is a little more than a month away, and we all know that Gordie Clark, Glen Sather, and the collection of Rangers scouts are holding many meetings to discuss potential players on their draft boards. The Rangers have two second round picks (#45, #55 or so) in this year’s draft. Although they might use these picks to trade up in the draft, there is a strong likelihood that they will use both of these picks. One player that catches my eye is defenseman Mike McKee, a prep school player at The Kent School in Connecticut committed to Northeastern once he finishes his final year at prep.
McKee is an absolute monster at 6’5 235 lbs. Yes, that’s right, the kid is 6’5 235 lbs. Generally players his size have trouble skating initially, but that is far from the case with McKee. McKee has been able to showcase some swift skating by jumping into the offensive play many times while playing in preps. Of course, as expected with his size, McKee absolutely dominates the body, and just tosses players aside when he needs to. He has a heavy shot, although he doesn’t utilize his shot that often at this level.
There are a few concerns that keep McKee out of the first round, with the biggest questions surrounding his hockey sense and passing abilities. He seems to miss passing windows while determining where to send the puck. This is likely due to his recent conversion to defense (two full years at defense), and will take time to correct. He’s not going to be a guy you count on to start your breakout, but he excels with the short, crisp passes that are deemed as safer passes. The second concern is mainly with the level of competition he has been facing. He has been playing in a lower-level prep school, despite being drafted by the OHL (Ottawa 67s) and the USHL (Lincoln Stars). The concern here is a bit overblown, as he simply chose to receive a good education from Kent (and later Northeastern).
Although McKee is ranked #144 in the Central Scouting list for domestic skaters, there is a chance that he will be drafted higher because of his size. He was initially deemed a sleeper, but he is starting to get a lot of attention. This attention means he may wind up being drafted as high as the second round. I would expect him to go in the third round (where the Rangers do not have a pick), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go as high as the second or as low as the fifth. The kid is an absolute beast on the ice, and with some fine tuning at higher levels, could be a dangerous NHL player.
S/t to to Kirk Luedeke of Bruins Draft Watch, who has great write-ups on McKee, and answered a lot of my questions on Twitter.