After much debate, we have decided to select, from the Prince Albert Raiders, center Mark McNeill.
More on this selection after the jump
Before we begin, here's the previous selections by the rest of the NHL Blog Managers:
- Edmonton - Adam Larsson D
- Colorado - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C
- Florida - Gabriel Landeskog W
- New Jersey - Sean Couturier C
- - Dougie Hamilton D
- Ottawa - Jonathan Huberdeau C
- Winnipeg - Nathan Beaulieu D
- Columbus - Sven Bartschi W
- Boston - D
- Minnesota - Mika Zibanejad C
- Colorado - Jamie Oleksiak D
- Carolina - Ryan Strome C
First I need to swear at Canes Country for a bit for noticing Strome was still on the board at the ridiculously low position of #12 and deciding not to take a defenseman. Screw you guys!
Anyways, at #13 the Flames are just out of reach of most of the top players and not yet at the point where you want to start reaching for players. It's kind of an awkward drafting position. That being said, for me it came down to McNeill and Khoklhachevaasgmkasg. Seriously, part of me hopes the Flames don't draft him purely because I don't want to spend the next 7 years spelling that out. With Khoklhachev being projected at the bottom of the first round, and me being slightly uncomfortable taking him so high; the fact that Hayley is also a fan of Mark McNeill sealed it.
So what is it I like about his game? To start with- he's a large two way center who can use his size without relying on it. He also has some of the best all-around hockey sense of any player in the draft, which, if you've been reading my 13th Overall series, I consider pretty darn important. He can skate well, protect the puck, has incredible shooting mechanics, and most importantly, understands the flow of the game exceptionally well. In a way, he reminds me of a David Moss with a much higher upside.
As for the stats, on a pretty mediocre Prince Albert team he put up 81 points in 70 games. Nothing gaudy, to be sure, but considering this was also his rookie season in the WHL and he doesn't have a super early birthday (February: smack dab in the middle of the draft year), those points say a lot about him and his potential.
Finally, in addition to what I like about him, I think the Flames organization is actually pretty likely to feel similarly towards him. The guy hits on a lot of known checkmarks: from western Canada; big center; defensively responsible; thinks the game at a higher level than most (doubt that's a checkmark for the Flames? Look at Reinhart, Holland, Arnold, and Wahl).
Mark McNeill is probably the closest thing to a complete, well-rounded player that could be available to the Flames with the 13th overall pick. While there's no question that the Flames need to draft for offence, this organization is not one that selects its prospects based on goal-scoring prowess alone, as Arik mentioned above. McNeill is the first player I've looked at thus far who has been evaluated positively when it comes to strength, skill, and skating/speed and the fact that he has been described as defensively responsible, tough to play against, and is accustomed to playing in all situations with the Prince Albert Raiders is all the more encouraging. The fact that he models his game after Ryan Getzlaf doesn't hurt either.
Of the 70 regular season games McNeill played, he was held pointless in only 19 of them while recording 24 multi-point games. His EV to special teams point ratio is healthy--28 PP/SH points to 53 ES points--and as Robert Cleave discusses in his profile of McNeill, his teammates this past season weren't exactly stellar, which means we're probably not looking at a Greg Nemisz-esque situation here.
It's difficult to find many knocks against McNeill, but as has become commonplace in this year's draft, most players outside of the top five are largely unknown commodities whose skills have yet to be tested against professionals. Although he sounds like a very solid player by all accounts, McNeill is no different.
He's likely the ideal player for the Flames to pick if he's still around at #13, but he's no slam dunk either.