With the loss to the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the playoffs, the Predators will be in possession of the 17th overall pick. As is almost always the case, they will be using it on the player they believe is the best player available; such a strategy is often referred to as "BPA."
From our viewpoint, there are many directions in which the Nashville Predators could go with their first round pick. Will they draft the intelligent two-way center? Will they go with the powerful goal-scoring winger? Will they pick the strong-skating puck-moving defenseman? Or could they go a bit off the board and draft the diminutive and skilled winger that many teams would often overlook in the early to middle part of the first round?
Only the Predators' scouting staff actually knows but, for now, we are going to provide you all with a range of players to look for in the first round come draft day! We'll start that list off with Mississauga Steelheads' center and alternate captain Michael McLeod.
- Position: Center
- Shoots: Right
- Height: 6'2" (via NHL Combine)
- Weight: 188 lbs (via NHL Combine)
- Team: Mississauga Steelheads "A" (OHL)
- Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
- Birth Year: February 3, 1998 (18 years old)
Michael Mcleod: the Next Craig Smith?
Nothing may run like a Deere but Michael McLeod can sure skate like one. He's so fast and explosive that he makes everyone else look like they are playing in slow-motion; except for his linemate Alexander Nylander, brother of William Nylander.
He really reminds me of Craig Smith, and in more ways than just his skating. Many players who have that elite-level speed have trouble making plays at their top gear. Just like Craig Smith, that is not Michael McLeod. He has the ability to use his great stick handling, playmaking, and wrist shot at any speed. Also of note, Mcleod shares Smith's great work ethic, as he is not one to quit on a play or shy away from the dirty areas. He also is pretty solid defensively.
McLeod has very broad shoulders, already has great size, and should be able to put on much more weight. The physicality of the NHL should not be a problem. What could be a problem would be he might not be cerebral enough to be an NHL-caliber center. If that were the case (and it very well might not be,) like Craig Smith, a shift to the right wing position could be a good answer to that issue.
Can McLeod fall to the Predators and, if so, where would he fit?
While (of the 1st round caliber players On the Forecheck will be profiling) McLeod is probably the least likely player to end up in a Nashville Predators' jersey come draft day, there is a real chance he could fall down the board to the number 17 spot. In fact, renowned prospect scouts Craig Button (TSN) and Corey Pronman (ESPN) have McLeod ranked 19th and 20th overall, respectively.
If there is a reason McLeod will fall to the Predators it is because of his lack of productivity during his OHL season and in the U18 World Junior Championships. For all of his talent, McLeod only notched 61 points in 57 games and alongside potential 2016 top 10 draft pick Alexander Nylander, no less. In the U18 Championships against much lesser competition than normal (Russia's entire roster had to be replaced after a failed growth hormone test,) he only put up 4 points in 7 games.
Despite that lack of productivity, McLeod is a player Predators fans should love to see fall down the board come draft day. If he can take advantage of his talent he is a top six NHLer who could make a great center for Filip Forsberg or a great winger for Ryan Johansen. He's also relentless on the forecheck and that needs to be the Predators' calling card going forward in order for Laviolette's system to be successful.
Tweets and Quotes
"He has great quickness and speed, is smart and skilled but also very reliable. A coach can put him out in any situation and feel comfortable. He's a guy who could create offense off the fly, because with the speed he has he's very hard to defend against, so he's able to make plays.
"I think he could show a little bit more of a power-forward game, and I think it's in him where he can just drive to the net and go right through guys." - Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr