Selected in the 6th round with the Vancouver Canucks’ 180th overall pick, Jack Malone was one of the big fallers of the 2019 NHL entry draft. After a strong USHL season in which he posted just over a point per game, he plans on taking the next step in his development with Cornell University in the NCAA. Malone is at a very early stage in his development, but there’s enough in his arsenal to get Canucks fans excited for another NCAA prospect for years to come. He clocks in at number 19 on our preseason rankings.
In keeping with past lists, we’re considering a prospect to be any player who is 25 years of age or younger and who has played less than 25 regular season games at the NHL level. This is a slightly modified and simplified version of the qualifications for the Calder Trophy.
As of the 2018/19 season, both Elias Pettersson and Adam Gaudette have graduated from prospect status.
By The Numbers
Malone played on one of if not the best line in the USHL this season as a part of the Youngstown Phantoms, playing right wing alongside Buffalo Sabres left wing prospect Brett Murray and centre Connor MacEachern. All three of those players ranked in the top 20 in scoring in the USHL and Malone was known as the passer on the line, sometimes to a fault.
When speaking with Matt Lipcsak, the play by play voice of the Youngstown Phantoms, one criticism that came up was that Malone didn’t shoot the puck enough. It”s a valid concern given how sneaky good Malone’s shot is when he chooses to use it.
Malone finished this past USHL season with 19 goals and 40 assists in 57 games and was very effective with a variety of different linemates at controlling goal share.
He improved almost all of his most consistent teammate’s goal share and looks to use use his pass-first mentality to get a chance to move up the lineup early when he attends Cornell University next season. Jack also talked about his playmaking and improving his shot when I interviewed him in July:
“That’s probably the thing I need to work on the most, just shooting the puck more. I don’t think I have a terrific shot or the worst shot but I definitely think it could be a lot more useful than I made it this year. I’ve always been a pass-first player, which is a blessing and curse. I love making plays and everything but at a certain point there would be times where I would need to shoot the puck or get the puck to the net and I would make the pass instead, so that’s something I need to work on moving forward.”
The standout attributes that I saw in Malone’s game were his strength on the puck and ability to dominate along the boards and drive to the net on odd-man rushes. This will be tested as he climbs the latter from the USHL to the NCAA, and hopefully to professional hockey as the skill around and against him improves.
As Malone continues to progress, he’ll have the chance to join prospects like Adam Gaudette and Tyler Madden in the ranks of late-round USHL standouts. As is usually the case with NCAA prospects, patience will be key, but with any luck fans will be treated to another round of impressive NCAA highlight gifs to keep them busy throughout the season.
When viewed through the lens of the prospect Graduation Probabilites System, Malone comes out looking pretty good for a sixth-round pick. pGPS give him an expected likelihood of success of 14.7%, and a top 6 XLS% of 7%. He’s got some impressive players in his cohort, too, with Max Pacioretty, David Backes, and Joe Pavelski among the most well-known names.
Data courtesy of Jeremy Davis, via NextGenHockey.ca
Malone will be alongside five other drafted NHL prospects at Cornell next season and will get the chance to familiarize himself with the local scene, as he’ll have 8 former BCHL players for teammates. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and has planned effectively for life outside hockey, as Jack plans to attend the Dyson business school to major in applied economics and management. His interest in business is something he inherited from his father, whom he used to accompany to the office on a regular basis. In all likelihood, Malone will be spending at least three years in college, and the skills he learns at Cornell will help him mature off the ice as he continues to develop on it. Overall, Jack seems like a great kid with an exciting future as a Canucks prospect who should be fun to follow in the NCAA for the next few seasons.