Training Camp Hopeful #5: Colin McDonald

That’s Colin McDonald getting himself into a really good position to make a play during a pre-season game. McDonald was part of the fateful 2003 entry draft and has not developed as hoped in the days since.

McDonald has some nice things (size, a plus shot) and some things that hold him back (he doesn’t really use his size, not enough base hits in that bat of his) and he’s pretty old for a prospect (25 in one month).

McDonald was one of three Falcons to score 10 goals or more a season ago, and as we’ll discuss below things got better when Rob Daum took over as head coach.

  • What NHL role could he eventually qualify for? Daum used him in a penalty killing role and he faced (according to JW’s stuff) pretty stiff EV competition. So there might be something to build on, and he did score a little more under Daum (28gp, 5-7-12).
  • Where could he find a job on the 09-10 roster? I’m not going to suggest he’ll break camp with the big club but the depth chart isn’t bursting with responsible men and should he perform well in a PK role during pre-season McDonald might be a callup option when injuries hit. The Oilers on RW feature skill (Hemsky, Nilsson), gritty role players (Stortini) and a veteran with a wide range of skills (Pisani). As luck would have it, the veteran with a wide range of skills is injury prone and there’s not much on the roster to fill the role. McDonald has no chance of filling that role, but Pisani’s replacement (Pouliot? Penner? Stortini? Brule?) will leave a void when moving up the depth chart.
  • Where is he on the depth chart entering camp? Well, we’d have to rank him behind the 11 forwards who have jobs (Hemsky, Horcoff, Penner, Gagner, Cogliano, O’Sullivan, Moreau, Pisani, Stortini, Nilsson, Pouliot) and 8 who are at the head of the line (Jacques, Brule, Potulny, Minard, Stone, Reddox, MacIntyre, Schremp) among minor leaguers. So that’s 19 before we hit the outskirts of Springfield. I’d rate him ahead of men like Paukovich, Trukhno, Lerg, Lefebvre, Ryan O’Marra. So we’ll say just inside the top 20 among the pro’s (we won’t include Eberle).
  • That’s like 10 guys who can play right-wing who are ahead of him. Reddox is the guy who’ll eat his lunch from that group of 8 in the middle there. He can penalty kill, played tougher competition in the minors and has already started the long and difficult step from minor to majors. And he’s doing it at a much younger age. After that, it’s a big cluster of players and with a new coach coming in you never know. It would help if he could score a little.
  • There’s no bloody way Pat Quinn makes Colin McDonald an NHL player. When Craig MacTavish got his first NHL job as a head coach, he elevated a bunch of AHL forwards. Their names? Brian Swanson, Michel Riesen, Daniel Cleary, Dan Lacouture, Domenic Pittis, Brad Norton. Lacouture and Norton (who was a defenseman but hired to play LW, but never played with the Oilers due to a suspension in pre-season) made the club because MacT wanted some rugged wingers. Pittis could play center and they needed a tackle dummy for big Georges. Swanson, Riesen and Cleary played on a successful line the season before in Hamilton. It’s a new day for these guys, and in McDonald’s case this training camp might be his best shot to make the NHL. He needs to impress and he’s in a position where they’re going to give him some at-bats.

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