#19 Prospect: Colin McDonald

Winter 2009: #18
Summer 2010:  NR

Winter 2010: #19

There’s not one chance in hell 10 people will agree with me, but I believe Colin McDonald is the 19th best prospect in the system at this time. He’s behind all of the true quality prospects who’ve remained healthy, he’s barely ahead of a couple of injury worries with high end potential, and he’s certainly swayed from prospect to suspect and back again.

However, he’s also scoring in a tough league and the things that held him back before (offense) seem to have been addressed. Make no mistake: this isn’t about a prospect developing new found abilities late, this is about a guy hanging around long enough to figure out where the goals are scored and then finding a way to get there at optimal moments.

He may never get another shot at the NHL, but I think he’s finally ready for it. Life’s a bitch.

Colin McDonald is not technically Edmonton Oiler property at this time. He owns an AHL contract and the Oklahoma City Barons are paying him. However, NHL teams often “purchase” such contracts and I believe the Edmonton Oilers will do just that at some point in 2011. The things that need to happen (injury on RW, ineffective play by multiple players above him on the depth chart, the lack of a “player with a wide range of skills” in the system at the pro level) are all part of the current script at the big league level. All Colin McDonald needs is an inspired thought from management and perhaps something like a 4-goal game to get his name above the event horizon.

Colin McDonald’s scouting reports are so old they used a typewriter. Here’s what the Hockey News told us in 2003 spring:

  • 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.

Most of the struggle Colin McDonald has had to deal with since turning pro is in regard to offense. He’s got size (6.03, 205) and can check so if he could add offense we’re dealing with a nice range of skills. Getting the big part of the bat on the ball is pretty damn hard and the kid from Hartford has had a whale of a time getting it done in the pro’s.

There are 7 AHL players who are tied for the league lead with 10 EV goals this season. Colin McDonald is one of them.

McDonald’s Desjardins’ NHLE’s over the years suggest a complementary player:

  • 03-04 (18) 82gp, 9-6-15 (NCAA)
  • 04-05 (19) 82gp, 14-7-21 (NCAA)
  • 05-06 (20) 82gp, 8-18-26 (NCAA)
  • 06-07 (21) 82gp, 12-4-16 (NCAA)
  • 07-08 (22) 82gp, 6-6-12 (AHL)
  • 08-09 (23) 82gp, 5-6-11 (AHL)
  • 09-10 (24) 82gp, 6-6-12 (AHL)
  • 10-11 (25) 82gp, 17-5-22 (AHL)

There are no tricks in the math. McDonald has scored 10 goals at even strength and 3 on the powerplay, so he’s full value for the goals scored. He’s also playing with and against quality players, as show here by Scott Reynolds. The top 6 forwards on OKC should all be considered solid NHL prospects: O’Marra, Moran at center, Omark, Reddox, Giroux and McDonald on the wings. McDonald’s partners in crime have most often been veterans Moran and Giroux. That’s a nice spot to be in for him this season.

I know what you’re going to ask: with all of the quality prospects still available (and there are: Kytnar, Belle, Rajala, O’Marra, Blain, Bigos, Motin, Bunz, others), why on earth would you choose Colin McDonald? Because we’re at a point in the top 20 when everyone has a question about them; for McDonald, it was always a question of offense, and he appears to have learned enough at the AHL level to survive on a skill line.
I’m absolutely convinced this will be a “no sale” from most who read my blog, but request your indulgence for a few more paragraphs. Todd Nelson, McDonald’s coach in OKC credits strong veteran linemates and #18′s aggressiveness in scoring areas: “He’s getting down there and making things happen for us right now.” An example is included in this clip.

I think there’s a window of opportunity for Colin McDonald with this edition of the Edmonton Oilers. The club has a large collection of piano movers, Coke machines, songwriters and hair stylists on the third and fourth line but lack one thing: hockey plays with size and some idea about coverage, success in tough areas and hauling ass.

McDonald’s always had the size and gumption, and with skilled AHL linemates has shown an ability to score goals at the minor league level. He’s young enough to have a career if he can catch a break during the 10-11 season. We know from observation that Tom Renney isn’t in love with Zack Stortini as an NHL player and RW Gilbert Brule is often found wanting.

The RW depth chart for the Oilers boasts Hemsky and Eberle at the high end, but lacks a Pisani-type for the 3line and Stortini’s job is in play for 11-12. He’s been in three fights this season, he can score goals when placed on a line with some skill and McDonald did look good in a cup of coffee last season.

He’s an oddity, like Milton Malone. But I think Colin McDonald has a chance under the big top.

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