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Ryan MacInnis carving his own path to NHL career

by Mike G. Morreale

Ryan MacInnis hopes one day to follow the incredible path paved by his father, Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis.

Unlike dad, however, Ryan will look to do so while starring at a different position.

Al MacInnis, who won the 1989 Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 1999 Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, spent 23 seasons in the League with the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues. His No. 2 was retired by the Blues and honored by the Flames.

Ryan MacInnis had 16 goals and 37 points in 66 games this season with Kitchener. (Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Ryan is a center for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. Born in St. Louis, he said it was no big deal when he informed his father that he would prefer to score goals instead of help prevent them.

"I like skating forward more than backwards," MacInnis said. "I realize that the defensive side of being a centerman is very important. Everyone needs to play defense so you can win games."

MacInnis had 16 goals and 37 points in 66 games this season, and tied for the team lead with six power-play goals. He was tied for ninth in scoring among first-year OHL players.

"He improved over the second half of the season with his mobility and speed to position himself to create more offensively, be on the attack and shoot really well," NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "I think Ryan has handled himself very well considering who his dad is. I give him credit for playing under that spotlight and continuing to work on his game.

"I think he's got a bright future and I like his upside."

MacInnis moved up 13 spots to No. 20 on Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, to be held June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"He's a very smart player," Kitchener coach Troy Smith said. "He's able to distribute the puck very well. I think he's going to be a good two-way center. He's a guy who can put up points and also play in the last minute [of tight games]."

After learning he was rated No. 33 on Central Scouting's midterm report in January, MacInnis, a 6-foot-3, 183-pound left-handed shot, was determined to improve.

"I wanted to be as high as possible and I knew I could get better; it was a big motivation," he said.

MacInnis compares his style of play to Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn.

"He's a responsible two-way center with a very good hockey IQ; he sees the ice and anticipates very well to generate scoring chances," director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "He's a good playmaker but just needs to work on his shot and shoot more often."

MacInnis participated in USA Hockey's All-American Prospects Game at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh in September and the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary in January.

His performance in Calgary marked the first time he stepped on the ice at Scotiabank Saddledome in two years, since his father was honored as "Forever A Flame" on Feb. 27, 2012.

The elder MacInnis, a 13-time NHL All-Star, was accompanied on the ice by his family and members of the Flames alumni during a pregame ceremony that was established to honor members of the Flames organization.

"It was pretty cool," Ryan MacInnis said. "I walked out onto the ice with my family and dad made a speech. It was awesome to see how Calgary just loves him."

Does the younger MacInnis offer the same type of cannon shot that dad once did?

"No, not even close to Dad's," MacInnis said. "We'll go outside a lot whenever I'm home in St. Louis and we'll shoot a lot. He'll just feed me one-timers and he'll teach me about the art of shooting.

"He says the secret to a good shot is using all of your body and just laying into it. Flex that stick as much as possible; just let the stick do the work. He said to just keep practicing it and you'll get the habit down because it's like muscle memory."

Ryan was asked at what age he figured out how special a hockey player his father was.

"I think when I was 10 when I saw his number retired by the St. Louis Blues, and 13 when I realized he was pretty famous when I saw the bronze statue in front of Scottrade Center," MacInnis said. "I'd Google his name a lot too, and there was plenty there to read. I learned quickly that he was pretty well-known."


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