2011 Draft Watch: Mark McNeill

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 the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft, and while most of the prospects on people’s lists will be gone (Nugent-Hopkins, Larsson, Courturier, etc), there are a good amount of prospects that would help the Rangers in the long run. Today we look at #20 in the ISS Top-30 –but is likely higher on many other boards– Mark McNeill of the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL.

The first thing you may notice about the 6’2″, 210lb center from Edmonton is that he is a big kid. So big, in fact, that he was able to compete in the WHL as just a 16 year old. He played four games for the Raiders in the 2008-2009 season (age 16), and played a full season in 2009-2010 (age 16-17). It’s not unheard of to have a 16 year old play in the WHL, but it is relatively rare. In that first season as a 16 year old, McNeill had a line of 9-15-24 with 27 PIMs and a -10 rating in 68 games. Last season –his age 17-18 season– he tore up the league, posting a line of 32-49-81 with 53 PIMs and a -4 rating in 70 games. In the playoffs, he posted a line of 2-3-5 in six games.

McNeill is a beast on the ice. Kirk Luedeke of Bruins Draft watch calls the kid a “Mack truck”. With kids his size, there is always a danger that he may not need to use his size because of the size of the players around him. That is untrue for McNeill, who uses his body for puck control, along the boards, and for intimidation. He doesn’t fight often, but when he does, he throws down with the best of them.

As for his hockey skills, his big frame (with ridiculously strong legs) makes him a fluid skater with good acceleration. He’s not Michael Grabner, but he has enough speed to leave defenders in the dust. His passing and shot are on par for a first round pick (ie: pretty good). What really sets McNeill apart (aside from his frame) is his work ethic. You don’t just become a Mack truck on skates without busting it at the gym and on the ice. His work ethic inspires his teammates, and makes him a natural born leader.

It’s tough to find anything that notes areas of improvement for McNeill. I find that hard to believe, because if there were no negatives, he’d be a lottery pick. The one thing I could find was that although he uses his size well, he is a bit inconsistent with using his size, especially without the puck. He is far from a liability in his own zone, but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement from McNeill without the puck. Consistency seems to be an issue for pretty much every single prospect under the age of 21 though.

McNeill is a big body center that seems to be coming into his own as a player in the WHL. He definitely has the work ethic to succeed, but it’s always a matter of making sure it all comes together. The Rangers seem to be on a trend of not only drafting talent, but drafting kids with good heads on their shoulders. McNeill is another player in that mold. He may not be the most skilled player, but he is definitely someone that I would be happy with the Rangers drafting.

Previous Entries:
Niklas Jensen
Boone Jenner
Sven Bartschi
Rocco Grimaldi

7 thoughts on “2011 Draft Watch: Mark McNeill

  • Jun 7, 2011 at 8:28 am

    This kid seems like the real deal. If Sven Bartschi slips this far down we will be forced to take him but this kid is a definite second. He might have the ability to make the jump to the NHL right away even. He keeps on impressing. I see him as a Brian Boyle type but with better hands and scoring touch. He could win key face offs and do it all. PLEASE DRAFT HIM!

    • Jun 7, 2011 at 10:43 am

      My concern is that although we see that he has a lot of tools, he’s not projected to be a top-10 pick by scouts. It means that even if we can’t find much negative, there’s still something there holding him back.

      It’s a weak draft, someone with these kinds of scouting reports should really be at least a top-10 pick, if not a lottery pick. There’s something we aren’t getting in these reports.

      • Jun 7, 2011 at 11:13 am

        True but stats don’t lie and he’s underage also. Weak draft class so we must draft smartly

        • Jun 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm

          Stats don’t lie, but since he’s playing in Jrs, he needs to show improvement…that means he needs to eventually challenge for the league lead in scoring.

  • Jun 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Scouting reports are based on a person’s likes or dislikes. TSN has him at 20, CSB 14 and I have seen mock drafts that have him at 11 as well as 22.

    He is not fancy or play with a lot of fanfare; he shows up to give you his best then goes home. He is as you say a player with a great work ethic which goes a long way to hide any of the negatives.

    When his Prince Albert team was trying to make the WHL playoffs, McNeill went on a tear going 11-15-26 in his last 15 games (he ended the season with a 10 game scoring streak)

    He was a big factor as to why his team scared the heck out of top seeded Saskatoon. The Blades thought they had a 4 game sweep but McNeill was great in games 3+4 which extended the series to 6 games

    He had a solid combine, his push strength of 366 lbs was tops in that area, that was 54 lbs better than 2nd place finisher (PS is a method of trying to measure how hard it is to move you out of the crease).

    He came away seen as the 2nd strongest player at the combine overall. He helped his draft stock go up big time,

    He is also a right handed center which is good to have.

    Just because nobody wrote down any negatives is a reason to worry. It is going to be hard for him to challenge for the WHL scoring title when he does not have a lot of support but that does not make him a bad player.

    To me I just want to see him continue the forward progress he is showing as Prince Albert is trying to rebuild. I would love to see him on a top WHL team but he is the focal point for PA

  • Jun 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    thomas jurco at 15

  • Jun 9, 2011 at 1:49 am

    i really want us to take this kid….

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