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.
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:
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.
The AMA Golf Giveaway
Our friends at AMA Travel have put together an exclusive golf getaway for two lucky citizens of the Nation. This is a FREE draw to enter so there’s really no excuse not to try chances for a free golf vacation.
- 2 nights accommodation at Ramada Kamloops
- 2 rounds of golf with a cart at The Dunes at Kamloops Golf Course
- 2 rounds of golf with a cart at Tobiano Golf Course in Kamloops
- $50 Esso Gift Card
- 2 Canada Golf Card memberships valid for 2016
- 2 Canada Golf Card phone wallets
The fine folks at AMA will pick a grand prize winner on July 17th, and have even sweetened the pot with weekly giveaways which increase your odds of winning something for doing basically nothing. To get further information and to enter this FREE draw just submit your info here.