Thursday, June 7, 2018

2018 NHL Draft Preview: Jared McIsaac

Hi everybody, and welcome back to our look at the 2018 NHL Draft coming up in June.

Today we look at **Jared McIsaac**.

Left-shooting defenseman for the Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

6'1" 194 lbs

65 games, 9G 38A 47 points

His draft rankings as of today are:

HockeyProspect - #22

ISS Hockey - #21

FutureConsiderations - #27

McKeens - #19

NHL Central Scouting - #13 (NA Skaters)

Will the Devils take a Moosehead with their 1st round pick for the 2nd year in a row? Enter Jared McIsaac, one of the top projected players in the 2018 NHL Draft coming into this season (projected to go top 10/15). McIsaac is yet another of the highly-skilled yet divisive defenders in the draft class. The Devils scouting crew has had plenty of time to watch him play with after drafting Hischier and defenseman, Jocktan Chainey, from the team last year.

McIsaac's defensive game is stellar. He's a "safe" pick in that his ability to think the game and his toolkit will at least will him to the NHL. The biggest question is how much upside he has.

McIsaac has good mobility as well as good footwork and a strong skating stride. Overall, McIsaac's skating is quite good. His progression of skating has been interesting to watch as he developed in the QMJHL, because he has really simplified his overall game when he has the puck on his stick, and this includes whether or not he skates the puck up the ice himself, or dishes it to a teammate for the breakout. His skating also allows him to roam around the ice and get to wherever he needs to.

The offensive game is where we start to see differing reports on McIsaac. Some scouting agencies (I can only talk about scouting agencies rather than team-specific departments) view him as very high potential upside who needs to improve consistency whereas others view him as lacking in decision-making ability and hockey IQ. McIsaac has a good wrist shot and sees the offensive zone very well. His slap shot is also strong here. McIsaac's passing is incredible accurate as well, and he can make his passes while going at full speed. I'm of the school of thought r.e. McIsaac that he has a high-level skillset who also has consistency issues. I'll discuss more about his potential further on, but there have been games where he completely takes over the ice, and then there have been games where it looked like he wasn't even playing. It's important not to stat-watch with defensemen, but this is especially prevalent for Jared McIsaac. It took a little while to find his offensive stride over the course of the season, but settled in nicely near the end of the season. I think McIsaac was one of the best defensemen for Team Canada at the U18 tournament. McIsaac seems like yet another defenseman that teams could look back on in a year and wonder why they passed on.

The defensive side of the game is where McIsaac excels, and he's one of the better shutdown defensemen in the draft class. Some agencies have listed him as a shutdown defenseman, but I think there's more nuance to his game than that. In fact, other agencies also list him as an offensive defenseman. McIsaac is one of those big question-mark defensemen of this draft. While not actively searching for bone-crunching hits, McIsaac isn't afraid to throw his weight around, and hits hard along the boards and in the corners. McIsaac is also defensively aware and uses his good positioning to break up passing lanes..for the most part. I say this caveat because when he's been hemmed in his own zone for an extended period of time, his positioning  is negatively affected. This is not a trait that is solely belonging to McIsaac, but it's important to note all aspects of his game. If there's one word to really sum up what type of game McIsaac has: simplicity. He plays a very straight-forward simple game, and doesn't try to do too much on the ice. It's this simplicity that helps him be an excellent puck-mover from his own zone in the transition game. He used to do too much back in Bantam, so perhaps as McIsaac gets more confident in the QMJHL, we could see a more dynamic approach to his offensive game, but if this is the "final" product in terms of play style (not skills development, but just play style), then that's okay too. I think it's what makes him a relatively safe pick to at least get to the NHL. It's just that there is so much more skill there than folks may see initially.

McIsaac reminds me a lot of Timothy Liljegren and Jacob Chychrun, not in play styles, but more in pre-draft hype resulting in a drop in the rankings during the draft-eligible season. McIsaac has all the tools to be a top-4 defenseman at the NHL level. There are plenty of legitimate concerns regarding his game, and it looks like scouting agencies have soured a bit on his play, but the potential is still there for McIsaac. Is the potential high enough or attainable enough for him that would warrant his selection over other flashier defensemen?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Jared McIsaac! Thank you so much for reading!

Other draft write-ups:

Bode Wilde

Nils Lundkvist

Evan Bouchard

K'Andre Miller

Ty Smith

Jonathan Tychonick

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