MacMillan knows draft day is a beginning, not an end
Bill Meltzer | NHL.com - June 12, 2007
Every young prospect dreams of being a first-round pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Walking up to the podium with the television cameras rolling, seeing his name go up on the big board, and donning the jersey of his new team for photo opportunities are just some of the trappings that go along with being selected in the first round.
Halifax Mooseheads center Logan MacMillan doesn't know if he'll be a first- or second-round pick in the 2007 draft. Early in the season, he was widely projected as a first-rounder. But after slumping offensively for a significant portion of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular season (finishing with 20 goals and 55 points in 68 games), the 6-foot-1, 185 pound pivot has fallen to a likely second-rounder in most draft projections.
For his part, MacMillan's main concern is what happens in the years to come rather than which round he's taken in on draft day. Halifax head coach Cam Russell, a former NHL defenseman, says that whichever club selects his charge - whether its in the first or second round - will someday be very happy with its selection of the Charlottetown, PEI, native.
"He's extremely mature and composed, and he plays a complete game," Russell says of the 17-year-old. "With Logan, it's not just about the stats. I can use him in every situation - killing penalties when we're down two men, taking faceoffs at the end of the game, playing on the power play, you name it. But he's shown can score some goals, too. I'd compare him with Ethan Moreau in that way."
Playing alongside top draft prospect Jakub Voracek, MacMillan came on strong offensively in the playoffs, potting nine goals and adding 11 assists for a whopping 20 points in just 12 games.
"I have high expectations for myself," MacMillan told ISS. "I think I'm a two-way player. I like to think of myself as a responsible guy you can have out in any situation."
If MacMillan's surname sounds familiar, it should. His father, Bob MacMillan played over 750 games in the NHL, scored 30 goals twice, racked up 108 points for the Atlanta (now Calgary) Flames in 1978-79 and set a single-season franchise record for assists in the process. His uncle, Billy McMillan, played seven NHL seasons and was the head coach of the New Jersey Devils in the early 1980s.
Bob MacMillan hardly lit up the scoreboard in his early years. An excellent playmaker, but a so-so scorer, Bob tallied just 12 goals in 39 games for the St. Catherine's Black Hawks in his draft year of 1972, when the New York Rangers selected him 15th overall. After two unspectacular seasons in the World Hockey Association and a campaign in the AHL, the elder MacMillan found his rhythm in the NHL at the age of 23.
Logan MacMillan has been allowed to blaze his own trail in the sport without his father acting like the stereotypical hockey parent - second-guessing coaches and critiquing his son's every move. Logan was never pushed to play hockey. He played the sport because he loved it. The elder MacMillan has been there to offer timely advice and encouragement when it was most needed.
"He went through everything I've been through and everything I will go through," Logan MacMillan told ISS. "He's been there, he knows what it takes. His advice every step of the way has helped me huge amounts every step of the way."
An Eastern Conference NHL scout says there are lot of parallels between Logan and his father in terms of their patience on the ice, their unselfishness and their ability to find open teammates with crisp passes.
"His father was a natural setup man and so is he. (Logan) had to make some adjustments playing with Voracek this year because Voracek is also more of playmaker than a scorer. It took some time to adjust but in the playoffs, they were the best one-two punch I've seen in a long time," says the scout.
Coming into his second QMJHL season after scoring nine goals and 18 points his first year, MacMillan felt that he was better prepared for the demands of the league and set high standards for his own improvement.
"It's a big jump from first year to second year. You've got the whole year of experience; you know what the league is all about. So you're not coming into 'No Man's Land' like coming into the league in your first year," he told Hockey's Future.
Voracek and MacMillan started and finished the season together as linemates, but were separated by Russell for a time during the middle part of the season. MacMillan experienced a scoring drought and Russell thought the second-season center would do better with less defensive attention focused on him by the opposing teams.
"Whichever line Voracek plays on is going to get the other team's top defenseman playing against him, and those are usually 19- or 20-year-old players. Once Logan got going, he did well matched up against the other team's best center. He really emerged as a leader for our team this season, and that's really a credit to him. Not many players can handle that responsible at age 17, especially because Voracek thinks and plays the game at such an advanced pace," says Russell.
The main area that MacMillan needs to work on, according to his coach and the player himself is his skating. While he is not a deficient skater, he has not yet developed the explosiveness that most offensively successful NHL centers display.
The other part of the equation: increased strength. The player is not finished growing and filling out yet and, coupled with his work ethic, the added bulk should help him win one-on-one battles along the boards and in front of the net. Added leg drive will help him better protect the puck. Plays where he now gets separated from the puck will turn into scoring chances.
"By the time he finishes filling out, I think he'll play at about 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds," says the scout. "He looks stronger this year than he did last season, and that should only continue. I'd say he's a decent stickhandler but he's not going to stickhandle around a lot of NHL defenseman on a regular basis. He's got to use his smarts and his strength."
Russell, for one, has no doubt in his mind that whatever rough edges exist with MacMillan will eventually get smoothed out.
"What do I expect to see from Logan next season? Really, just more of the same that he showed this year. He'll continue to mature physically and get better from the experience. Mentally he's already very advanced for his age. He just gets it. He understands that the little things are the difference between winning and losing and he pays attention to those details. That's going to carry him a long way," Russell said.
MacMillan demonstrates the maturity his coach raves about when discussing his own draft potential. While he would, of course, love to be taken in the first round, he wouldn't be disappointed if he's taken in the second round. One point that his father and uncle have stressed to him is that the work a player does after the draft (from ages 18 to about 20) is even more important than what got him drafted.
"Whatever happens (at the draft), happens," MacMillan said. "What's under my control is to work hard at practice and continue to plug away. I want to be the kind of player my team can rely on to be consistent. To play in the NHL, that's what I need to be."
Moosehead's MacMillan keeps even keel at NHL entry-draft prospects
Charles Reid, Transcontinental Media - April 28, 2007
Logan MacMillan might be the top-rated Prince Edward Islander in the 2007 NHL entry draft in Columbus, Ohio, but he's not taking his second-round status to heart.
"I kind of have had the same attitude the whole time because (rankings) have been coming out all year. I just try to keep on an even keel and not get too worried about it," the Halifax Mooseheads forward said this week after NHL Central Scouting released its final list of draft-eligible players.
The 17-year-old from Winsloe is pegged 42nd overall among North American skaters after a solid second season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Other Islanders on the list include Clyde River's Randy Cameron (fifth round, 129th overall) from the Moncton Wildcats and Justin Vaive, son of former NHLer Rick Vaive of Charlottetown, who plays college hockey in the United States and is listed as a seventh- rounder.
Forward Kyle Turris, who plays junior A in Burnaby, B.C., is ranked first among North American skaters while winger Jakub Voracek, MacMillan's linemate, is ranked seventh.
This is mostly superficial, however. Factor in 175 European skaters vying for spots and draft positions will be different when the draft begins.
But MacMillan, whose father Bobby was a first-round pick of the New York Rangers in 1972, doesn't see draft position as a free ride to the pros.
"I don't think it makes a difference at all," said the six-foot- two, 187-pound centre. "I just think it's kind of an honour for that one day, and the work really just begins after that."
The draft's first round goes June 22 at 8 p.m., with TSN carrying live coverage. Rounds two through seven go the next day starting at 11 a.m.
MacMillan, who attends Prince Andrew High School, is going to the draft with his agent, Pat Morris.
After a slow start to the season, MacMillan racked up 23 of his 55 points in the last 17 games. MacMillan earned another 20 points in 12 playoff games.
Halifax's dynamic duo
Voracek, MacMillan could give Mooseheads two first-rounders in draft
WILLY PALOV, The Chronicle - June 21, 2007
This weekend's NHL draft in Columbus, Ohio could yield a new franchise first for the Halifax Mooseheads.
With Jakub Voracek a lock to go in the top 10 and Logan MacMillan having a realistic chance to go in the top 30, it could mark the first time two Mooseheads have gone in the first round in the same year. That seemed like a longshot as recently as six months ago when MacMillan was considered a solid prospect, but more likely to go in the second or third round. But when the two linemates teamed up for a tremendous second half of the regular season and an even better playoff, that all changed.
Now MacMillan is getting more attention as a potential second-line centre because of his late scoring surge. His 20 post-season points in just 12 games were particularly important as scouts began to think maybe he could be more than just a heady, two-way player that would be an ideal checking centre at the NHL level.
"(He) gets most of his points through hard work and smarts rather than dynamic skills, but raised his offensive game significantly in second half, was terrific in the playoffs, putting up points in impressive fashion and generating plenty of offence on his own," reads his write-up in Red Line Report, which ranks him 20th overall. "His late season statement means his offensive upside may be better than (Red Line Report) initially thought."
Red Line Report and most other scouts still view MacMillan's smarts as his strength but that I something that could work in his favour more than ever this year. The 2007 crop of prospects is considered solid at the top end, but fairly average after the top eight. Some teams may lean towards taking a player they are sure will contribute to their franchise one day rather than gambling on a prospect's potential that may never pan out.
One source even said he has a hunch the Carolina Hurricanes might be targeting MacMillan at No. 11 because he feels his make-up is a perfect fit for their franchise philosophy. MacMillan, the son of former NHLer Bobby MacMillan, doesn't put much stock in that kind of pre-draft chatter and said he sees his eventual selection as nothing more than a stepping stone to his ultimate goal.
"That would be exciting (to go in the first round) but you can't look into the scouting lists too much," said MacMillan. "They've been there all year and you see yourself rated in every which round. I try not to pay attention to them too much. I'd rather just wait for the actual thing to happen and get excited about it then.
"I guess it's better to be on them than not, but at the same time I think it's best just to stay on an even keel throughout the whole process."
It remains to be seen if MacMillan will join Pascal Leclaire (eighth overall, Columbus Blue Jackets, 2001), Alex Tanguay (12th overall, Colorado Avalance, 1998) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere (13th overall, Hartford Whalers, 1995) on the list of Mooseheads to be taken in the first round, but it is a given Voracek will make the grade.
The six-foot-two, 190-pound winger has a solid chance to go in the top five and may even still have a shot to go first overall. He spent time at the top of Red Line Report's list this year and was also No. 1 for a while on the International Scouting Service's rankings. He is currently No. 2 for Red Line Report and No. 5 for ISS, but his draft position will ultimately come down to the opinions of the individual teams.
His competition at the top of the draft includes Patrick Kane, Kyle Turris, James Van Riemsdyck, Karl Alzner and Alexei Cherepanov. Sam Gagner, Angelo Esposito and Logan Couture also have an outside chance of sneaking ahead of him, but odds are that Voracek will be competing more with the initial group of five.
Ironically, the only knock on Voracek is that some people regard him as a â€˜safe' pick, meaning he has no holes in his game and has what scouts refer to as a â€˜high basement.' In other words, he does everything well and is low-risk because he is a virtual lock to contribute at a reasonably high level in the NHL.
But players like Kane, Turris, Van Riemsdyk and Cherepanov intrigue some scouts more because it's their opinion they have a higher ceiling than Voracek, meaning they think they may develop into bigger stars. That is open to debate because Voracek certainly showed in his rookie season this year that he is as exciting and dynamic as any player who has ever worn a Halifax uniform and will probably surpass Leclaire as the highest Moosehead ever selected.