First Round Targets - Mark McNeill

Robert Cleave
June 12 2011 10:36AM

             

The Flames head to this month's draft with a relatively barren prospect cupboard to fill, so decent players of any sort will do, but the primary deficiency the club faces at the developmental level is the absence of skilled forwards. The 13th pick in the draft represents an opportunity to address that need, and one of the potential players of interest is Prince Albert center Mark McNeill. 

McNeill is a slightly unusual case for a young player in that a team won't be waiting very long, if at all, for him to physically mature. He's already roughly 210 pounds at age 18 and a few months, so it's possible he might be almost done filling out. His power numbers from the recent NHL draft combine certainly indicate he's a specimen, with very high grip and leg strength present in the testing. That does leave one wondering if he simply bullied his way around in the Dub, and if he can translate that power when he works against men, but if nothing else, there won't be many questions asking if his frame is NHL-ready.

That state of physical near-readiness fits the rest of the prospect evaluations on McNeill as well. Corey Pronman's profile at Hockey Prospectus included this bit:

  

McNeill's best quality is in regards to his hockey sense, as he thinks the game at a notably above-average level and has a very advanced defensive game for a pre-draft prospect. He comes back and supports his defenders on every shift with good positional and physical play and rarely leaves the zone until he's sure there's no threat, but yet still puts offensive puck possession pressure on the opposition. There are very few holes in Mark's game, and he's a prospect that can fast track to the NHL and be playing scoring minutes within a couple of years.

 

As Corey also points out, McNeill appears to be an acceptable skater with good top-end speed. Whether that translates to the bigs is another matter, but again, it doesn't seem like his movement will be a serious negative as he progresses to the pro level.

In terms of on-ice performance, the Edmonton native made waves this year with an 81 point campaign in P.A. on a fairly mediocre club. As Kent noted when he profiled Sven Bartschi, it's often instructive to examine both a player's production and surroundings in junior, and McNeill's efforts are well worth a look in that regard. Of his 81 points, 51 came at even strength, or roughly 63 percent. That's not out of line for good prospects, and it's worth mentioning that the likely top pick in the draft scored 59 of his 106 points on the PP this season. Plenty of high scoring juniors fatten their totals when their team is a man to the good (cough Rob Schremp cough), so that split should always be considered, and McNeill's tally of 25 PP points doesn't raise any red flags in that regard. By way of comparison, Max Reinhart had 27 PP points this season as part of his 79 point total on a very good Kootenay squad. 

As mentioned, surroundings are worth noting as well. McNeill's Raider team finished 8th in the WHL's Eastern Conference, scoring 237 goals. He was in on just over 34 percent of Prince Albert's total scoring, and 30 percent (51pts on 170 G) of their EV goals. Those numbers are right in line with Bartschi's 29 percent at EV (63/214), but the difference in McNeill's favour when we use this metric is that the quality of his teammates was slightly weaker than Bartschi's. Of the other scorers in P.A.'s top five, exactly zero of them have been drafted, and the team's leading scorer headed to the ECHL for his next gig, in contrast to the two top-five picks on Portland's squad. In other words, it seems unlikely McNeill was carried to a high point total by the endeavours of others.

In terms of potential red flags, McNeill did appear to burst out of nowhere this season, going from 24 points to 81, and as Scott Reynolds has noted, players that make a major leap in their draft year don't always carry that to the next level, so more than tripling his point total might not automatically be considered a plus. His relatively late birthday of February 22nd, 1993 hints that he might just have needed a bit of time to finish growing into his body, so the significant leap for his 17 year old to 18 year old numbers may not be entirely negative, but it's still a matter of interest.

Overall, if Mark McNeill turns out, a player of his style would fit the needs of the Flames quite nicely. A right-shooting power center is a relatively rare commodity in the game, and the club's two best center prospects (Backlund/Wahl) are certainly of a slighter build. If he's available at 13, the Flames will have to give him very serious consideration.

 

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Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
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#1 RossCreekNation
June 12 2011, 10:46AM
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Yes, please.

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#2 Kent Wilson
June 12 2011, 10:50AM
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NHL Central scouting ranked McNeill the 14th NA skater. ISS ranked him 15th overall. Unless someone goes off board with McNeil (which is possible given his physical tools), he should be around by 13.

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#4 Vintage Flame
June 12 2011, 11:27AM
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Impressive prospect numbers. I like his size and skill set coming into the draft. I must admit I didn't know a whole heck of a lot about McNeil before this and hearing RCN rave about him on twitter. Looks like he could be a good fit for the Flames if he lasts till #13, and if the Flames take him at 13. I like that he's not one of these prospects that scores 60-70% of his points on the PP.

Going to be an interesting day for sure. Keep the good stuff coming guys. It's great to see these prospect profiles!

Go Bruins!

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#5 Palt
June 12 2011, 11:28AM
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Sounds like Ryan Kesler.

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#6 Dominator39
June 12 2011, 11:39AM
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I posted previously that, if either are available at 13, I'd like to see the Flames draft McNeill or Scheifele. As Robert points out above, McNeill is a right-handed centre which is appealling since our most promising sniper is Ryan Howse who plays left wing.

From my standpoint, McNeill's other impressive traits are that he is apparently a freak when it comes to working out (which is reflected in his Combine results) and he's supposed to be very bright, both academically and in terms of his hockey I.Q. I understand that he played right wing his first year of junior. He was shifted to centre this season and played the point on P.A.'s powerplay without missing a beat. Impressive to say the least.

Clearly, he's a coachable kid.

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#7 RossCreekNation
June 12 2011, 11:41AM
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FYI, The Bible (The Hockey News) has him at #16 -- says he's "a smart kid who fast-tracked through high school and was responsible enough as a forward to be trusted with point duties on the first power play unit last year"; good hockey sense & composure; "developed a very versatile game as a power forward"; "a gym rat who doesn't take short cuts"; plays both C & RW; "has excellent vision".

Oh... and this gem... "scouts see a player similar to Bobby Ryan".

Like I said... YES, PLEASE!

**When I asked their thoughts on McNiell to the Flames at #13, The Pipeline Show said "makes sense to me. CGY likes the WHL, big strong guy is a fit for them too."

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#8 RossCreekNation
June 12 2011, 11:45AM
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@Dominator39

Wow... 2 minutes apart. Is there an echo... echo... echo?

:-)

FWIW, The Bible has Scheifle at 41. Maybe he's still there at 45?

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#9 Colin
June 12 2011, 11:56AM
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I've said it before, my preference in this draft is still Bartschi at 13 if hes still there, but with the Wild/Avs/Canes all picking before us, I have him going to one of them

If that leaves us with McNeil as our 13 pick I'm more than happy about that. I'm not always sold on these "big" guys that never play a big game when they get to the NHL. What could leave McNeil to us as well at 13 is that the Wild/Avs/Canes are all gonna want wingers rather than a center as most of them have well established centers in their 1/2 spots.

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#10 RossCreekNation
June 12 2011, 12:28PM
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Lowetide has his Top 30 list over at ON. He's got McNiell at 10, Beaulieau at 13, Scheifle at 14.

http://oilersnation.com/2011/6/12/middle-30

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#11 michael at Oilersfan
June 12 2011, 12:35PM
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Just to let you know if Jay Feaster and his staff are stupid enough not to take this kid we here in Edmonton would gladly have Tambo make a move to pick him up. RNH, Gagne ,McNeil and Anton Lander all at center in the coming years would be the cats ass. Lowetide has him at 10 on his ranking. He'd look great in a Flames or Oilers uniform. Let the chips drop were they may.

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#12 SmellOfVictory
June 12 2011, 12:43PM
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Not to get anybody's hopes up, but a lot of the description of this fellow reminds me of Getzlaf at the draft (offensive jump in his draft year, power centre, intelligent).

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#13 backburner
June 12 2011, 12:58PM
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AND he can drop the gloves with anyone... definitely not much to dislike here... a good fit for the Flames, my favorite pick!

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#14 RossCreekNation
June 12 2011, 01:16PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Not to get anybody's hopes up, but a lot of the description of this fellow reminds me of Getzlaf at the draft (offensive jump in his draft year, power centre, intelligent).

I was thinking the same thing.

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#15 Dominator39
June 12 2011, 01:41PM
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Hey RossCreekNation,

I don't have to tell you what they say about great minds, right?

I also read McNeills write-up in The Hockey News which is one of the reasons why I like this kid. I like the combination of talent and overall smarts.

I've also seen some of McNeill's highlights on Youtube. While he has all the attributes of a power forward, I really like his composure with the puck. He reminded me a bit of Ryan Kesler but I think the Ryan Getzlaff comparison is more fitting.

As for Scheiflele, I don't think he will be available at 45. I'd be happy with Joe Morrow (ISS # 33), Zack Phillips (ISS # 34), Boone Jenner (ISS # 38) and or Daniel Catenacci (ISS # 51) with one or more of our 2nd Round picks.

While I'm sure we're going to hear the usual cries of nepotism, I keep reading that Adam Lowry's stock has really risen (now ISS # 76). Maybe he should be in the Flames' wheelhouse as well.

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#16 marty
June 12 2011, 02:42PM
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seems to be complete player. this is who i hope the team goes out and drafts. always a crap shoot but with his size and hockey sense seems to be a high reward low risk but its the draft who knows. go bruins!

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#17 gprime
June 12 2011, 02:46PM
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If he can get anywhere near Getzlafian production, its a no brainer. Yes please.

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#18 RossCreekNation
June 12 2011, 03:01PM
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I was thinking d-man for one of the two 2nd rounders, but outside of Joe Morrow, I may back off that stance (based on THN's top 60 anyways). Anyone got some insight on d-men in that 40-60 range? Dillon Simpson?

Wouldn't mind Michael St. Croix with a 2nd.

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#19 OilFan
June 12 2011, 04:15PM
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Do you guys see the flames making and trades at the draft to get more picks ?

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#20 Parallex
June 12 2011, 04:30PM
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Yeah... it's this guy or Armia for me. Depending on how risk adverse you are since I think Armia has higher upside but McNeill the higher floor.

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#21 JR
June 12 2011, 04:31PM
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What are the Flames chances of getting Rocco Grimaldi in the 2nd round? Or is he more likely to be a later first round selection? Would the Flames be willing to move up to get a high risk high reward small offensive forward. I know its probably not worth the risk at 13, but he could turn out to be a dynamic offensive prospect the Flames so desperatley need. If they're willing to trade up into the later first round or early second round.

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#22 Dominator39
June 12 2011, 04:41PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

I was thinking d-man for one of the two 2nd rounders, but outside of Joe Morrow, I may back off that stance (based on THN's top 60 anyways). Anyone got some insight on d-men in that 40-60 range? Dillon Simpson?

Wouldn't mind Michael St. Croix with a 2nd.

I wouldn't mind the Flames picking up a defenceman with one of their 2nd Round picks. That said, I would like to see them draft a solid centreman with their first Round pick and then use one of their second round picks to draft some speed and/or sandpaper up front. I don't think Phillips has either attribute but you can't ignore his scoring/playmaking touch.

In terms of D-men, two kids that may be around when we're drafting in Round 2 are Rasmus Bengtsson (ISS #52) and Ryan Sproul (ISS #60). ISS seems to think they both have some upside. I have a feeling Morrow won't make it past the 1st Round.

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#23 Dominator39
June 12 2011, 04:44PM
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I like Grimaldi as well. I'm just worried about taking him at #13. I watched him during the U18 tournament and there's no doubt he's dynamic!

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#24 todd
June 12 2011, 07:28PM
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This is who I predict you guys will take.

Why are people giving Bobby Lou a bad rap? He spoke the truth! You can't play goaltending like Thomas in the long run. That style WILL not win the cup. If he stayed in his net, Laps isn't scoring.

I predict : Van in 6

4-3 Van in OT

Burrows with the winner

Sedins have their best game of the series

Bobby Lou makes 40 saves

Marchand gets what's coming to him

GO VAN GO!

We will take David Musil with our pick

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#25 Justin Azevedo
June 12 2011, 10:25PM
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AHHH EVERYTHING THAT I PUT IN MY MOCK DRAFT ABOUT THIS KID HAS BEEN SAID /runs away with hair on fire

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#26 SmellOfVictory
June 12 2011, 10:36PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

AHHH EVERYTHING THAT I PUT IN MY MOCK DRAFT ABOUT THIS KID HAS BEEN SAID /runs away with hair on fire

lol owned

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#27 backburner
June 13 2011, 06:43AM
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@Dominator39

I think Chicago could pick up Grimaldi 18th overall... the next Theo Fleury for sure.

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#28 RossCreekNation
June 13 2011, 06:56AM
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The Theo Fleury comparison is exactly why I'd be hesitant on drafting Grimaldi in Calgary (without seeing much of him, of course). My fear is that EVERYONE here would make the comparison b/c of size, and the pressure could make things difficult on him.

The Pipline Show, Dustin Nielson (Team 1260) & Lowetide ALL think McNiell would be a great fit, and I had a few Oiler fans on twitter say he'd be a good fit (one even saying if he were Tambellini, he'd try trading #19 to Columbus for #8 just to take McNiell so Calgary can't). I've even seen some mock drafts that had McNiell going 10/11/12 (Nielson has him going 13 to the Flames). Hope he's still there at 13. I'm sold.

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#29 CitizenFlame
June 13 2011, 07:16AM
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Based on these reports, by far this kid would be my top choice. I really like his size, hockey IQ, defensive responsibility, and the part where it says he doesn't cut corners while being a gym rat. He doesn't appear to have much of a downside, apart from being a bit of a late bloomer. Calgary needs centermen in the pipeline, more than anything else. Maybe a year in the AHL with Howse and that czech kid develop a scoring line for Abby?

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#30 icedawg_42
June 13 2011, 07:52AM
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I've seen a few mock drafts predicting the Flames will grab McNeil - as Parallex said before, probably not as high a ceiling as Armia, but a higher floor - aka less risk. If a kid knows how to play a physical game in the WHL at 18, you can only expect him to tweak and hone it next year and his 20yr old year (if he stays). I'd have no problem with the Flames grabbing him. We'll see how the landscape changes when the fireworks start happening on the day.

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#31 Emir
June 13 2011, 12:16PM
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I've read this thread three times now and I do like mcneil as our pick. I think he will fit the way this team plays and that's key to having the guy be a success with theteam. My concern with armia is that he feels like a gamble and with the emphasis on defense I'm not sure he could pan out in our development system.

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#32 Colin
June 13 2011, 08:49PM
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todd wrote:

This is who I predict you guys will take.

Why are people giving Bobby Lou a bad rap? He spoke the truth! You can't play goaltending like Thomas in the long run. That style WILL not win the cup. If he stayed in his net, Laps isn't scoring.

I predict : Van in 6

4-3 Van in OT

Burrows with the winner

Sedins have their best game of the series

Bobby Lou makes 40 saves

Marchand gets what's coming to him

GO VAN GO!

We will take David Musil with our pick

Well you could get 7.

It could still go 6-5 in OT

Burrow could get a winner if they can score 4 in 8 minutes

Sedins have the best game of the series, well they scored their first goal, so well I guess you are right

BOBBY LOU MAKES 40 SAVES! LMAO, DID HE EVEN MAKE 4!

And Marchand played great again.

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