Colin McDonald didn’t have a good AHL debut by the numbers. Despite being 23 he barely made it into the top 50 rookie scorers in the AHL (he is tied for 48th) and his plus minus number (-22) is tied for worst on the team.
McDonald (68gp, 12-11-23) has 4 powerplay goals. Kevin Prendergast recently told Guy Flaming “I still think he’s got a chance, we’ll have to be patient with him. He’s got a bomb for a shot, he’s just got to get himself into a position to use it.”
The Oilers have had a lot of college kids play in the AHL since the turn of the century and McDonald’s career has shown some resemblance to that of Brad Winchester:
Winchester 33gp, 9-9-18 (.545ppg) NCAA
McDonald 37gp, 10-6-16 (.432ppg) NCAA
Winchester was 8th in scoring on his team, which included Dany Heatley and Steve Reinprecht. McDonald was 7th on his team in points. I know we’re talking about different NCAA divisions over a 10 year period, but they appear to be somewhat similar offense talents at the same age.
McDonald 26gp, 11-5-16 (.615ppg) NCAA
Winchester 41gp, 7-9-16 (.390ppg) NCAA
Winchester was 12th in points for Wisconsin, McDonald’s 16 points were good for 5th on his club, and I think it’s important at this point to make note of the fact that Providence during McDonald’s career was just awful offensively. If McDonald ends up being a better offensive player as a pro than predicted, I think one of the major reasons we’ll be able to point to is the horrific Providence offense. At age 20 there’s some clearance for McDonald over Winchester.
Winchester 38gp, 14-20-34 (.895ppg) NCAA
McDonald 36gp, 9-19-28 (.777ppg) NCAA
McDonald’s 28 points were good for 4th on a team that had an improved offense (105 goals), Winchester led his team in points (123 goals for Wisconsin in 01-02). Both players had their best college seasons at 21.
McDonald 36gp, 13-4-17 (.472ppg) NCAA
Winchester 38gp, 10-6-16 (.421ppg) NCAA
Winchester was 4th in points for Wisconsin (93 goals), behind Rene Bourque and a kid named Tom Gilbert. McDonald was 3rd on his team, as Providence scored a ridiculous 76 goals. Both players slumped in their senior years which may speak to toughness of opposition but we don’t have that information.
McDonald 68gp, 12-11-23 (.338) AHL
Winchester 65gp, 13-6-19 (.292ppg) AHL
McDonald is 8th on his team in points, Winchester was 15th in team scoring as an AHL rookie (this was not a shared farm team). Offensively McDonald appears to be the better player as an AHL rookie than Winchester and overall comparisons at the same age indicate he is in fact a better offensive player than Winchester.
Which won’t get him to the NHL and keep him there. Winchester’s hanging on to an NHL job which could go away any second and brings some things McDonald doesn’t in terms of skill set.
The problem I have with McDonald’s season in Springfield goes back to his draft day bio: Owns projectable size and a nice touch around the net. Needs to prove he can put up numbers against tougher competition or risked being labeled a checker. Interesting offensive upside but will need to develop.
His college career after that and his season in the AHL have proven he isn’t going to score a lot unless he ends up riding shotgun to Gagner (McDonald does have an NHL calibre shot according to scouting reports).
However, and this is key, the math says he may not be as good as advertised away from the puck. If we take out all of the special teams goals for and against (that are available to us) and get the Springfield totals down to EV (4×4, 5×5), like this:
- PP for: 66, PP against: 79
- PK for: 10, PK against: 12
- EN for: 4, EN against: 9
Springfield then would have scored 126 and allowed 142 goals at EVs (please check my math, one tends to let the mind wander when checking the AHL site). That’s minus 16. Although we don’t know the TOI each player enjoyed for each game and this is not an ideal scenario let’s list the “altered plus minus”:
- Liam Reddox +26
- Troy Bodie +12
- Marc Pouliot +10
- Rob Schremp +4
- Slava Trukhno E
- JF Jacques -3
- Tim Sestito -5
- Colin McDonald -6
I’ve included only Oilers forward prospects who played 50 or more games and of course it doesn’t speak to TOI or toughness of minutes. I’ve also made zero adjustment for games played, which is to say that Pouliot’s +10 comes in 51gp and Schremp’s +4 comes in 74gp. If they played 50 or more games and are an F prospect of note then they’re on the list.
Reddox, Bodie and Sestito are AHL rookies but played a season or more in the ECHL. The only pure rookies are Truhkno and McDonald. The fact that Trukno’s number is superior on this list is worthy of note for several reasons: Trukhno is 2 and a half years younger and I think we can agree is a better skill player than Colin McDonald.
He’s going to get passed by someone in the fall. At least one someone.
Final Grade: 57%