Jack McBain did what all scouts love to see when studying draft prospects: He played his best in the biggest games.
The 6-foot-3, 197-pound center had 58 points (21 goals, 37 assists) in 48 games for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and is No. 35 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2018 NHL Draft.
The first round of the draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas is June 22 (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 23 (11 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS).
McBain, 18, displayed his full skill set during three best-on-best tournaments.
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He tied for the Canada lead with three goals in five games to help win the gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August. Playing for Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge in December, he tied for the tournament lead with six points (two goals, four assists) in four games. He had three points (one goal, two assists) for Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April.
"I was fine when I got to the next level, these Hockey Canada events," McBain said. "My game really elevates at that level. … I think my game really kind of goes to another level when I'm around those guys and playing against those guys. I think I can play more my game, simplify everything, not trying to do too much. They're all really good players. I like where I matched up against them in those tournaments."
Scouts were impressed by what they saw.
"He's one of those nice hybrid players that's big and can play physical when he needs to, and has really good skills for a big man," Central Scouting senior manager David Gregory said. "Really good with the puck in traffic, great hockey sense, makes good decisions with the puck."
McBain opted for the OJHL rather than Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League, which owns his Canadian Hockey League rights, so he could attend college. He'll play at Boston College next season.
"I believe the college route is better for me," McBain said. "Playing against bigger, stronger guys … is going to benefit me in the future. The schedule there really suits me, playing less and working out more. For me, getting bigger, faster and stronger, that's something I need to improve on. So the college route made a lot of sense."
Toronto coach Jeff Angelidis said when he was recruiting McBain, education was as important as hockey to the family. But McBain is more than just a strong pupil in the classroom.
"We're both self-proclaimed hockey geeks," Angelidis said. "We'd have conversations about this stuff all the time. He's a student of the game. He'd watch tendencies of centermen while he's sitting on the bench so if he's out there against them later in the game he's picking them apart. He's studying the other team's power-play tendencies, wanting to speak to me after the first period or after a game or preparing that week heading into the weekend. He gets it. He's studying what teams are doing. We have a HockeyTV account so we'll watch games coming up. He knows what other teams' top players are. He's a student of the game. … He's a fierce competitor and a student."
It's not just the ice and the classroom where McBain is competitive. Angelidis said McBain is the best ping pong player on the team and dominated in beach volleyball games.
He's also likely the best skier. In addition to playing hockey growing up, he was a downhill skier who specialized in slalom and competed in races across North America.
"I skied all the way through my minor-midget year (age 16)," he said. "Provincials, Cans, which are similar to nationals, then from there you'd go to Whistler Cup, that's a world event. … It was a really cool experience for me."
Some of McBain's competitiveness comes from his father, Andrew McBain, who was selected by the Winnipeg Jets with the No. 8 pick in the 1983 NHL Draft, and played 608 games with the Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators.
Jack said he's seen video of his father and there are some similarities in their styles of play, but he takes more from Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar.
"They're both big, two-way players and both leaders on their team," he said. "I love the way they play the game."
What McBain gets from his father is first-hand knowledge on dealing with life as a professional hockey player.
"He really says it's a grind, getting there and staying there," Jack said. "Getting there is one thing and staying there, you have a lot of guys coming up. He saw that at the end of his career. A lot of it recently has been a lot less hockey and a lot more off-ice stuff, what kind of person and what kind of teammate you are. I think that's really stuck with me for sure."