This year’s NHL Draft in Dallas features a Canadiens management team holding five picks in the top 60. While many look to the high-quality talent available with the top 10 pick in the first round, in this draft profile we will look to the second round where the Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens hold four selections.
One possible selection that is projected to be available early in the second round is Jack McBain. The 18-year-old, right-handed centre with the OJHL Toronto Jr. Canadiens is a player who may be able to fill a need at centre and upgrade the skill level of the prospect pool.
CSB: No. 29 (NA Skaters) | ISS: No. | THN: No. | HP: No. | FC: No. 20 | McKeen’s: No. 30
At six-foot-three-inches and 196 pounds, Jack McBain, has the size NHL teams covet. McBain is committed to NCAA Division 1 Boston College for 2018-19. While this is a highly touted and prestigious hockey program, having played in lower leagues to remain eligible for his scholarship has likely caused him to drop somewhat in draft stock. In my limited viewings, I believe that his skills are evident.
He also has the bloodlines. His father Andrew McBain played 608 NHL games for Winnipeg, Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Ottawa. The younger McBain seems to have been able to rely on and use his father’s experience.
“It’s about how you conduct yourself on the ice and off the ice.” — Jack McBain
In speaking with Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, Jack spoke about the influence of his father, saying “It’s about how you conduct yourself on the ice and off the ice. A lot is about what kind of teammate and person you are first, because people watch that. He’s been really good for me.”
This influence is demonstrated in a high work ethic. He also plays a more mature game than many of his peers, and he puts this to use along with his clear desire to win puck battles. That being said, consistency is still a work in progress.
— FutureConsiderations (@FCHockey) March 20, 2018
McBain drew a significant amount of attention at the 2017 World Jr. A Challenge that was held in Truro, Nova Scotia in December 2017. Several scouts I spoke to while attending the tournament were left impressed as Jack was able to step up his play in the competition, finishing with six points in four games for Canada East.
While McBain has size, he does need to fill out his frame in order to compete at the NHL level. However, he is seemingly one of the stronger players in his age group. Jack is already difficult to play against and troublesome for opposition defenses to control along the boards and in the slot.
McBain’s skating is solid, with very good top end speed. He has excellent lateral mobility and he uses his edges effectively. That being said, his first step speed is an area in need of improvement during off-season training.
“At the next level everybody’s faster, everybody’s big..” — Jack McBain
It is something that Jack is committed to addressing as he told THN, saying, “Definitely my explosiveness, my first three strides. At the next level everybody’s faster, everybody’s big, so I want to keep up and get off to a fast start.”
McBain’s offensive game is highly productive at the lower levels as seen at his World Jr. A appearance and in OJHL play. Yet it is his somewhat underrated defensive game where added value can be seen. He uses his smarts and an active stick to anticipate a play and to generate a transition game, getting the puck back on offense quickly.
Once in the offensive zone, he uses his large frame with zeal. McBain excels when generating the cycle game and winning one-on-one battles by taking opponents out along the boards. Jack also has an appetite for playing in the slot where he is capable of enduring the physical abuse defenders apply while using his strength to create traffic in front of an opposition goaltender, generate tip-ins or to use his accurate quick release wrist shot in close.
McBain can also boast excellent on-ice vision. He sees the ice extremely well, and can read and react quickly. He has an exceptional ability for controlling the pace of the game. He is able to make high-skill plays at top speeds, but he also has an ability to slow the game down and has the patience to let the play develop, allowing him to make a crisp tape-to-tape pass. He also has an accurate and heavy shot. When he pairs his ability to create openings in the slot his quick release creates fits for opposing goaltenders.
As the NHL draft can be difficult to predict in the later moments of the first round, McBain could move up into the discussion for some teams with late first round selections. However, if he was available when Montreal’s first of several second-round selection is on the board, he could be an excellent addition to a team looking to add some potential top nine talent to their prospect pool at centre.