Oilers sign McDonald

This is Colin McDonald in the faceoff circle for the Springfield Falcons. According to capgeek (or, the Bible as it is quickly becoming known) the Edmonton Oilers have signed McDonald to a 1-year, $550,000 contract. This actually represents a cut in pay on his entry level deal ($662,500) but he never saw the light of day anyway during that contract.

I think this may be a huge year in the career of Colin McDonald. After a couple of seasons of running in place, there are several significant arrows pointing in the right direction.

First, he seemed to blossom under coach Rob Daum late in this past AHL season. In McDonald’s final 10 games of the season, he went 3-2-5 +1 (he was 7-10-17 -9 in his previous 67 games). Also (according to Jonathan Willis’ Quality of Competition for the Falcons) he played tough minutes all year.

We can’t get ahead of ourselves here, the Oilers have plenty of options when it comes to wingers with size. McDonald has a plus shot (that hasn’t fooled AHL goalies) and although he does have size he’s not using it as much as the organization would like him to based on reports.

McDonald may have caught a break with the coaching change. Pat Quinn likes the big wingers for the bottom 6 F’s and McDonald has a clean slate with him. When Craig MacTavish arrived in Edmonton fall 2000, he elevated an entire line (Bulldog line-Brian Swanson, Michel Riesen and Daniel Cleary) along with defenseman Brad Norton and big winger Dan Lacouture. If McDonald had some more of Lacouture’s grit, he’d have an even better chance at sticking with the big club for 2009-10.

I like to do comparables from time to time, and will spend quite a bit of this summer on the subject. I’ve compared Colin McDonald in the past to college forwards Fernando Pisani and Brad Winchester and would like to add this past season to the comparison. You can find the yearly results going back to college here but for today I’ll just focus on the pro seasons.

Age 23
  • Pisani 52gp, 12-13-25 (.481ppg) AHL
  • McDonald 73gp, 12-11-23 (.315ppg) AHL
  • Winchester 65gp, 13-6-19 (.292ppg) AHL

We don’t really know the time on ice, the role of each player and there is certainly a difference in the offense of each team. McDonald was 8th on his team in points in his first pro season, Winchester was 15th in team scoring as an AHL rookie (this was not a shared farm team) and Pisani was 8th on his club. I should also mention that during this time the Oilers expressed concerns about Winchester not using his size as an asset.

Age 24

  • Fernando Pisani 79gp, 26-34-60 (.759ppg) AHL
  • Brad Winchester 76gp, 22-18-40 (.526ppg) AHL
  • Colin McDonald 77gp, 10-12-22 (.286ppg) AHL

McDonald clearly had an inferior season to both of the men we’re comparing him to here. Pisani was in on 24.3% of his team’s offense and ranked 4th in points. Winchester was in on 20.3% of his team’s offense and was 3rd on the club in points. McDonald was in on 12.15% of his team’s offense and ranked 6th among Falcons in 09-10. In the interests of giving him every possible leeway, McDonald did play tough minutes and we don’t know for certain how that would compare to the other two (although logic and good sense tells us Pisani had been climbing hills long before he arrived in Edmonton).

At this point we could reasonably expect about 11 points (Desjardins’ NHLE) from McDonald in a full season. That’s Stortini territory, and there’s little doubt Zack Stortini is a better 11 point player than Colin McDonald.

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