ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo on June 24-25. Michael McLeod is the No. 13-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. The Avalanche has the 10th overall selection at the draft.
Michael McLeod recently completed his second season with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, and not only did he improve his stats, but his speed as well.
The 18-year-old was able to showcase his talent in Vancouver in January at the 2016 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Pacific Coliseum, where he finished first among 36 skaters in transition agility (12.88 seconds) during on-ice testing.
"He has great quickness and speed, is smart and skilled but also very reliable," Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting said to NHL.com. "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.”
The dependable forward is ranked No. 13 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting—only 10 spots below Steelheads linemate Alexander Nylander—which makes McLeod the fourth-ranked center.
"He's got good skills and is super-fast, so pass to him and the puck is usually out of the zone," Nylander said to NHL.com, attesting to McLeod’s game. "He's got a good shot and has good vision, good playmaking ability."
Standing at 6-foot-2, the 188-pound Canadian center displayed another type of quickness when he finished the 2015-16 season having won more than half (58 percent) of his 1,284 faceoffs.
McLeod completed last season ranked second in scoring for his team with a total of 61 points in 57 games (21 goals, 40 assists). That’s more than double his first season at Mississauga where he only had 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 63 games. The right-handed shooter also closed out the 2015-16 campaign with the same kind of success, registering nine points (three goals, six assists) in seven playoff games for the Steelheads.
He owes some of his success to the fact that hockey runs deep in the veins of the McLeod family. Michael’s older brother, Matthew, played for Canisius College this past year and his younger brother, Ryan, played alongside Michael for the Steelheads. Having grown up in such a cutthroat family certainly helped contribute to the Mississauga, Ontario, native’s desire to improve.
“I think that’s kind of what made me so competitive,” McLeod told NHL.com. “No matter what we were doing, whether it was skating, playing hockey or video games, I always wanted to beat [my brothers]. I think that made us all better players and gave each of us that competitive edge.”
Even McLeod’s mother has had an influence, as the 2016 Draft prospect wears No. 9 in honor of her favorite player, hockey legend Gordie Howe.
McLeod has seen his talents take him to an international stage as he recently competed for his country at the 2016 Under-18 World Championship. He also won a gold medal squad at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, where he tallied four points in five games (two goals, two assists).
Prior to his junior hockey career, the forward skated for the Toronto Marlboros of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. In the 2013-14 season, he registered 57 points (21 goals, 36 assists) in 33 games.
McLeod’s coach, Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey, lead the Marlboros to the OHL Cup championship in 2014. Recognized for his hard work, McLeod was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament after putting up 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in seven games.
“When we were younger we [didn’t] realize how great a player [Coffey] was and I was pretty close with him,” McLeod said to NHL.com. “I don’t look at him as a Hall of Famer, but a coach or friend. When you realize you’re getting advice from a Hall of Fame player you have to take it all in.”
With the 2016 NHL Draft just days away, McLeod will look to cap off his year of improvement with an early selection in Buffalo.