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NHL Draft 2019: Caps Select Connor McMichael

The Caps pick a forward from the London Knights with #25

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With the 25th pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Capitals have selected center Connor McMichael from the London Knights (OHL).

McMichael’s rankings across the scouting world:

  • Ranked #52 by THE ATHLETIC
  • Ranked #32 by HOCKEYPROSPECT.COM
  • Ranked #27 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS
  • Ranked #37 by ISS HOCKEY
  • Ranked #28 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
  • Ranked #24 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
  • Ranked #33 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
  • Ranked #28 by TSN/McKenzie

Here’s our own Luke Adomanis on McMichael from our draft preview earlier this week:

It’s not easy finding goal scoring centers late in the first round, but Connor McMichael should be there for the taking. His 36 goals this season in the OHL ranked him first in the whole CHL by draft eligible centers. And his 10.46 shots/60 ranked him fourth among CHL draft eligible centers.

But he isn’t just a shooter, he has above average vision and can find teammates all over the ice. He’s very smart and knows what to do with the puck at both ends of the ice, making him a reliable center. This is proven in him being ranked fourth in the CHL in 5v5 primary assists per game and fifth in 5v5 primary points per game.

His underlying numbers aren’t groundbreaking like the others on this list, but many believe McMichael is better than those numbers and as he matures the more consistent he will be, which was an issue this season. He’s a good not great skater, but competes very well. The Capitals haven’t had a top six potential center shooter (or at least a center that likes to shoot) in a long time, it would be good to add one.

From EliteProspects.com:

A smart center with impressive hockey sense. Reads the game very well and plays well in his own end too. Puckhandling is good and he has a decent nose for the net. Some consistency issues.

Here’s The Athletic’s Corey Pronman on McMichael:

McMichael had a great season, as a go-to player for London when its lineup was depleted, and he continued to produce and generate shots at a high level when the roster filled out, although he tailed off toward the end. He doesn’t wow you with his tools, but he’s a quality player. McMichael is a very smart all-around hockey player. He sees the ice very well, is creative with the puck and understands the game away from the puck. He’s not the biggest guy but McMichael competes well. He gets to the net and gets back on defense. With the puck, he’s skilled but not amazingly so. He can make some space with his hands, and his shot can surprise goalies with the ability to pick corners. His skating leaves some to be desired. He has decent speed but not great for his size, and his stride is inefficient. I give a nod to his sense and production as indicators that he could play in the NHL.

London Knights assistant coach Rick Steadman on McMichael: “He makes plays. He can play up and down a lineup. He can play at both ends of the ice. He’s very skilled and has a great shot.”

McMichael apparently has quite a shot on him - from a recent piece on the newest Cap in the London Free Press:

McMichael scored more times for London in his second OHL season than former franchise stars who played in bigger roles at the same age: Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Rob Schremp and David Bolland. He has a similar release to ex-Knight Seth Griffith, who buried 45 goals for the Memorial Cup finalists in 2011-12.

“[His shot’s] tricky,” London associate GM Rob Simpson said. “There’s not a lot of backward swing in it. It’s hard for goalies to read the roll of the puck off his blade. It’s something with the way he holds the stick or releases it from the ice.

“By the time the goalie picks up if the puck is going high or low, it’s already by him.”

Hmm. Sounds familiar.

Karl Stewart of NHL’s Central Scouting had this to say about McMichael:

“He doesn’t play on the top line, but you could put him anywhere in the lineup and he’s going to simulate his game to whoever he’s playing with,” Karl Stewart of NHL Central Scouting said. “You could put him with a Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) or in a fourth-line role and this kid will play the same game. He can think with the best of them and will grind it out with most sandpaper guys.”

Stewart said he wouldn’t be surprised to see McMichael begin his professional career on the wing.

”Typically these kids need a little maturing and experience in picking up their head to survey the ice better, play a more composed game,” he said. “That’s when their game takes off. He’s got the ability to take his game to the next level, but I see him more as a wing in the NHL.”

And more on McMIchael from Dobberprospects.com:

McMichael played a sizable role on a good but not great London Knights squad this season. The pivot brings across-the-board skills without really excelling in any one skill. His 36 goals trailed only Arthur Kaliyev’s 51 for first-time draft-eligible skaters in the OHL. His 72 points ranked third. The all-around pivot is not the biggest or fastest player, but he’s effective at finding seams and distributing the puck. He owns a quick and accurate release and can finish at a high rate. He’s not afraid to work into the high-traffic areas. He projects to be a safe floor NHLer with some top-six upside.

Check out some of the kid’s highlights from this past season:

And finally, here’s Caps’ assistant GM Ross Mahoney talking about the pick: