By Sean Patrick RyanEdmonton Oilers prospect rankings: #12 Ryan McLeod2018 ranking: 5th overallA popular Oilers fan favourite after a promising showing at last year’s rookie camp, McLeod heads to Bakersfield with a certain level of hype and excitement around him. He was considered a steal by many in the second round of the 2018 draft after being pegged as a first round talent. The Oilers don’t have a lot of depth at center in the pipeline. They certainly don’t have anyone as fast and explosive a skater as McLeod in the minors. So many consider him a lock to play in Edmonton sooner rather than later.However, there is a reason why he dropped to the second round in his draft year. His offensive production never really took off. Plus, his compete level has always been in question and he hasn’t been able to shake that dreaded “perimeter player” tag.In terms of NHL translatable skills, he has a real intriguing skill-set but for whatever reason he just wasn’t able to turn that into a dominant OHL season as a promising young prospect.
4 year OHL Career 2015-16: 62 GP – 7 goals, 13 assists, 20 pts, 57 SOG, – 62016-17: 68 GP – 9 goals, 33 assists, 42 pts, 111 SOG, +122017-18: 68 GP – 26 goals, 44 assists, 70 pts, 165 SOG, – 22018-19: 63 GP – 19 goals, 43 assists, 62 pts, 149 SOG, +650 playoff games: 12 goals, 27 assists, 39 pts, 93 SOG, +18All stats courtesy of Ontariohockeyleague.comAs you can see, McLeod never really had a “breakout season” offensively in the OHL even as a 19 year old #1 center. In fact, the most goals he scored in one season was only 26, and he finished with a pedestrian 61 goals for his entire OHL career. He also had only 194 points in 261 career games. To put that in perspective, Owen Tippett who was his teammate for all four years both in Mississauga and Saginaw and his linemate for the majority of their careers, had 244 points in only 213 games. He also chipped in 11 goals & 22 points in 17 games in last year’s playoffs where McLeod only had five goals and 12 points. Disappointing offensive production overall for the talented centre.There’s no question McLeod has enough talent to make it to the NHL. He’s a fabulous skater, plays an excellent 200 foot game, and is capable of playing in all situations. When you watch him consistently though you are always left wanting to see more. He likes to stay on the outside, tends to pass when he should shoot, and too often he settles for a low percentage shot from the outside instead of driving it hard to the net. Saginaw was loaded this year but McLeod never really got it going offensively like you would expect from the #1 centre on a top team. He finished his career as a nice OHL player but a bit of a underwhelming one.
DALLAS, TX – JUNE 23: Ryan McLeod reacts after being selected 40th overal
Bruce Bennett /
AHL BoundSo what kind of prospect can the Oilers expect as McLeod moves on to minor pro? Here’s a detailed analysis of his strengths and weaknesses.StrengthsSKATING – All-round terrific skater plain and simple. Smooth, flawless stride. Terrific agility and edge-work. Acceleration is elite. Ability to weave in and out of lanes with ease. Effortless skater. Puts tremendous pressure on opposition by eliminating time and space with his speed on the forecheck. Always a breakaway threat on the penalty kill. PASSING – Other than skating, this is his best skill. Terrific vision and ability to deliver cross ice passes right on the tape. Sees passing lanes develop before they happen and sets up defenders with his skating. Very capable of putting nice touch on the sauce pass. Good first pass out of d-zone covering for defencemen. Occasionally, tries to thread the needle too much which leads to turnovers. No-look pass on the PP is common. VERSATILITY & RELIABILITY – Really, this is his best asset & trait as he attempts to carve out a role as a NHL regular and make a career out of it. He is a very reliable 200 foot player, excels at zone entries, can play PP or PK, and take big faceoffs. He is also very defensively responsible as he hustles back and picks up the trailer or covers for a pinching defenceman. Typically, the first one out of the offensive zone who creates a lot of turnovers by breaking up the transition. As reliable as they come. WRIST SHOT POWER – His wrist shot is powerful and he has a real quick release. Problem is, he doesn’t use it nearly enough as he is a pass first type player. Too bad because he can absolutely snipe it when he wants to. Head up, bar down. Settles for long range shots when he could pick up more goals easily if he went harder to the net. The shot is legit though. WeaknessesPERIMETER PLAYER – Soft, easy to play against type who if you keep to the outside you can contain offensively. Can skate for miles but too often won’t go to the blue paint. Looks to dish it off too often when challenged. Passes up shots for more passes. Overhandles the puck on the perimeter. There will always be bust potential with this player unless he improves here. COMPETE LEVEL – This goes hand in hand with the previous point. Doesn’t show enough compete in board battles or in front of the net to be a productive offensive force. Will just watch the scramble in front instead of trying to create something from it. Gets pushed off the puck and rubbed out of the play too easily. Physicality is almost non-existent. Turns the puck over when a hit may be coming. Clearly a stick-checker. Too many invisible games offensively where he looks like merely a figure skater. Definite cause for concern. SHOT SELECTION – As mentioned, he possesses a very good wrist shot and release but too often settles for a low percentage shot from the perimeter, or passes instead of shooting altogether. Shot gets blocked an awful lot. Needs to do a much better job of changing angles and release points. Only 11 goals 5 on 5 this past season. Hard TruthMcLeod is an intriguing prospect with limited offensive upside unless he decides to completely change his mental approach to games and up his competitiveness. If he does, he might be able to re-invent himself into a more determined player capable of a greater offensive output. However, throughout his junior career he just didn’t show enough will and determination to become an elite offensive force despite the intriguing skill-set. He did prove though that his speed and versatility could be a real asset which is why he is still considered a valuable prospect. He is a very good faceoff center, capable of shutting down opposing lines, and adds incredible value to a penalty kill unit. He has also scored a few big playoff goals in his OHL career.McLeod will likely be nothing more than a #3C in the NHL if he makes it, but one that could help contribute in a variety of ways and be a key part of a winning team. His skating alone should get him to the NHL, but like so many others before him like Ryan Spooner for example, how hard he competes on a nightly basis will ultimately determine how long he sticks around.