FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Mason McDonald

Over the course of history, it’s seemingly natural for players to become associated with another. For instance, Hunter Shinkaruk was forever linked with Emile Poirier by virtue of his hometown Calgary Flames opting to select Poirier when both were available at the 2013 NHL Draft. (A similar scenario happened with Mark Jankowski and Olli Maatta in 2012.) 

At the 2014 Draft, general manager Brad Treliving made another life-long pairing in his first draft as a GM, selecting Mason McDonald as the first goaltender instead of Thatcher Demko. 

Especially because of Demko’s brilliance on the college level and his prominence in the plans for the rival Vancouver Canucks, it’s likely that Flames fans will be scrutinizing the McDonald selection for a long time. Aside from hip surgery, Demko has been superb at the college level and will turn pro in 2016-17. McDonald hasn’t enjoyed the dominance of his counterpart.

The 2015-16 season was fairly typical of McDonald’s post-draft experience.

SEASON SUMMARY

McDonald had a very up-and-down year for the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. He got out of the gate alright, going 4-4-0 in October with a respectable .901 save percentage. His numbers cratered in November and December, and he went 3-8-0 during that span – fighting injuries and sitting in favour of rookie Matthew Welsh.

Despite his struggles, McDonald was invited to Team Canada’s World Junior camp and was basically a shoo-in to make the team despite his uneven start. He went 1-1-0 with an .861 save percentage in two starts for the sixth-place Canadian team. He was the better of Canada’s two goalies (statistically), which says a lot.

McDonald ended up finishing his season with a 21-18-0 record in just 39 starts (down from 58 starts last season) and posted a .902 save percentage. Truth be told, though, he was really streaky: he posted .900+ save percentages in October, January and April, and it was actually his strong final five games of the season that finally got his record above .500 and his save percentage above the .900 mark.

His team wasn’t exactly the Harlem Globetrotters, but the lack of growth in his numbers has to be a bit concerning at this point.

IMPACT ON TEAM

McDonald was pretty inconsistent throughout the season. Until his season-ending five-game winning streak, he struggled to string wins together and was basically a win-one, lose-one (or two) goaltender for the majority of the season.

Here’s how his goals against broke down:

GA Games
0 3
1 1
2 11
3 8
4 6
5 4
6 3
7 1
8 1

McDonald was seemingly like the proverbial box of chocolates from Forrest Gump: you never really knew what you were going to get (which is a bit alarming for a second round pick in his second year as a starter in the Q.)

And while I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt because of the wide-open, “What’s defense?” style of the QMJHL, it doesn’t seem that the number of shots against really made much of a difference in regards to McDonald’s performance. He faced 40+ shots eight times, including a 58-shot game, and went 6-2-0. In 17 games facing 30-39 shots, he went 8-9-0. In 14 games facing fewer than 30 shots, he went 7-7-0.

He is what he is: a .900-ish save percentage goalie in the QMJHL.

WHAT COMES NEXT?

McDonald turned 20 in April, so his entry-level contract will begin rolling with the 2016-17 season. That doesn’t mean that he’ll necessarily be in the professional ranks next season, but it’s exceedingly likely given that the first year of his contract will be burnt either way.

He’ll likely be competing with Jon Gillies (and probably David Rittich) for ice time in Stockton, and could potentially find himself plying his trade for the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL to get some reps in. If he’s going to adjust to the pro game, and if he’s going to improve as a netminder, he’s going to have to play a lot next season. Adirondack may be where that happens for him.

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  • Baalzamon

    I’ve said it before: Mason McDonald will play all of next season in the ECHL. Laurent Brossoit played in the ECHL in this first pro season, and he was a better prospect than McDonald is.

  • KiLLKiND

    Maybe he needs hip surgery, it is almost a given that all goalies will need this surgery and potentially that could have played a part in his less-than-desired season.

      • The GREAT Walter White

        The Brodeur/Kid fiasco had the added humiliation that we actually traded up with NJ to make that pick….but the difference in the quality of the goalies being compared may be similar…

        WW

        • Connor McDaigle

          Demko was #1 rated goalie in the draft, McDonald #2, at the time the selection was close. Demko had his breakout draft +1. I am sure you hadn’t nor have watched him play, so the first year bitching was just that, someone that likes to bitch.
          But to now say a successful college goalie, which every year has it’s hero, is going to be as good as one of the best tenders to ever hit the ice is just asinine. The pick doesn’t look great at the moment, I as well had my doubts, but the final chapter has not been written here. No need to go full potatoe on its assessment now.

    • Prototype369

      I have to concede that i disagreed with your ramblings of demko vs. mcdonald in the beginning, but slowly I’m seeing your point. Lets say demko had already been picked by our pick, would you have been fine with us picking mcdonald, or is mcdonald a bad 2nd round pick regardless?

  • Wheels

    The whole 2014 offseason was pretty much a wash. Smith and McDonald with 2nd round picks, Bollig for a 3rd, Engelland and Raymond signings. Thankfully Treliving has done a great job since then and that offseason screams Burke anyways.

  • The Beej

    Gee whiz eh.

    No Flames news today. Im starving. Totally thought after work I would see something

    Come on BT sign a RFA… hire a coach… buy someone out… sign another random FA out of europe.

    Man.. the next couple weeks look to be pretty busy for BT. We should all pitch in on some Tim cards for him… if he doesnt start crossing things off the list he may have to pull some all nighters.

  • freethe flames

    Again here we go again attacking a kid before he even has a chance to play at the professional level. He may be as bad as WW says he is but that’s on the kid. Let’s see what happens? We agree that most goalies are voodoo so I say give the kid 2/3 years in the ECHL/AHL before wee right him off.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      It’s NOT on the kid, I’m sure McDonald is a great kid, trying his best to be the best goalie he can possibly be. This is ALL on our management team making this brutal pick.

      In the same way It’s not Jankowski’s fault that Feaster thought he was smarter than everyone else….

      WW

  • Baalzamon

    Looks like the Hurricanes are bringing Ward back. Great news for the Flames for two reasons:

    1. Takes a buyer (Carolina) off a market already saturated with sellers.
    2. Takes a bad goalie off the market.