Michael McLeod is bound to be a divisive prospect in this Draft. I know, because I've personally gone back and forth on how I feel about Michael McLeod a number of times. Ultimately, how you feel is going to be based on whether you want to value the process--McLeod does a lot of great things on the ice, or the results--McLeod doesn't produce enough offense. The Draft is about long-term potential, so I'll gamble on the process and say McLeod has the potential to be an outstanding player at the NHL level.
Player: Michael McLeod
Team: Mississauga Steelheads(OHL)
Height:6'2" Weight: 185 lbs.
Stats: 57 games, 21 goals, 40 assists, 61 points, +10
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 13th among North American skaters
What I Like:
-Quick feet and strong skating
The first thing that everyone notices about McLeod is that for a 6'2" forward, he is really fast. He accelerates really well and has a strong, steady stride. His skating is an exceptional tool.
-Excellent in puck support
One thing that doesn't show up as immediately with McLeod, and I don't think he gets enough credit for, is that he is really outstanding at supporting the puck and putting himself in the right position to end up with the puck a lot. This clip is a decent example, where a teammate gets rubbed out of the play on the rush, but McLeod is in position to pick up the puck and uses his skating ability to make a strong move to the net.
-Keeps plays alive with good puck retrieval
Not only is McLeod fast, but he's really smart with his speed. He reads the play really well and knows where the puck is going, which gives him an extra half step on opponents and allows him to win a lot of races to loose pucks and maintain possession in the offensive zone.
As you'd expect from a player that is always in the right position, McLeod is good on his own end of the ice. His combination of skating, size, and positioning makes him really difficult for any opponent to beat in a one-on-one battle.
What I Don't Like:
-Poor finishing ability
McLeod creates a ton of quality chances thanks to his skating skills and positioning, but his conversion rate on those chances is frustratingly poor. His shot velocity and accuracy is not great, and whether it's confidence or something else, he just lacks that certain ineffable thing that pure goal scorers seem to have.
I'm not sure what the advanced metrics like possession% and scoring chances created would say, but I could see McLeod being a player that always does very well in those stathead categories, but it never quite translating into big point totals. There's a chance his luck improves and all those good things turn into goals and he becomes a top line center, but if he's struggling to do it at the junior level, odds aren't great that he can do it as a pro.
McLeod will most likely be picked somewhere between picks 10 and 20 in the first round. The concerns about his offensive production are enough to keep him out of the top 10, but it's going to be really tough to justify picking anyone available after the 20th pick over him.
The big question with McLeod was whether he has the potential to be a #1 center at the NHL level. I'm not sure he'll ever be quite the scorer necessary to play that role, but a team could do a lot worse in the Draft than walking away with a really good #2 center, and that's where I think McLeod will end up. Even if the scoring doesn't come around, he could be a really, really good center up the middle in a third or fourth line role.