Ian McCoshen comes into this year's NHL Draft with more junior hockey experience than nearly any player in the draft. Having made the roster of the Waterloo Blackhawks just a few months after his 15th birthday, he had played nearly a full season of Tier I junior hockey before anyone else in his birth year was eligible to play full-time in the CHL. But despite that experience, McCoshen remains one of the rawer prospects likely to be taken in the first round of the draft.
McCoshen was a Bantam teammate of Nathan MacKinnon at Shattuck-St. Mary's, and was the top defenseman on a tremendously talented team. The following year, because of a policy of not allowing younger players to play on the school's top prep team, McCoshen opted to jump to the USHL, while his teammates like MacKinnon, played on the school's U16 team.
As a general rule, players capable of making the jump to the USHL at age 15 tend to be very early-bloomers that start to severely fade in their draft year(Seth Ambroz, Tristin Llewellyn, etc.) because they don't show the same growth and potential other players do that is necessary to make it at the next level. That hasn't been the case with McCoshen, however. Each year McCoshen has played in the USHL, he has shown a steady progression, improving both his ice time and scoring output, more than doubling his point total from last year to this year, going from 20 points to 44 this past season. Next season, McCoshen will join one of the top NCAA programs in the country at Boston College.
McCoshen is a big, defensive defenseman. He measured in a 6'2" 207 lbs. at the NHL Combine. His straight-line skating is very good for a player of his size, with a little bit of room to improve his lateral movement. He's an excellent one-on-one defender, and can play with a bit of a physical edge. He doesn't project to be a huge offensive creator at the next level, but he's shown enough improvement in that area that it shouldn't be a liability. While he may not play on the power play much, he'll make smart, solid first passes out of the zone.
Complicating matters in terms of assessing McCoshen is that while he was scouted extensively playing in Waterloo, he missed out on some key opportunities to be seen internationally this year. He didn't play at last summer's Ivan Hlinka U18 tournament, instead helping lead Waterloo to a second place finish at the inaugural World Junior Club championships. He was also forced to miss this past fall's World Jr. A Challenge after missing two months of action with a bout of mononucleosis(though he did play in the 2011 tournament as one of the few 2013 draft eligibles on the US team). And an extended run in the USHL playoffs kept him from being added to the US World U18 championships team this fall. That meant draft projections for McCoshen ended up staying pretty static throughout the year, with no big events really changing people's opinions on him.
His upside is as a reliable, defensively sound second pairing defenseman at the NHL level, with the possibility of even being a top-pairing guy in the right situation. His size and skating should allow him to play and be effective against any forward line. If McCoshen isn't selected in the first round of the draft, he likely won't last very long into the second round before he is taken, and would be a huge steal if he went that late.