After an impressive sophomore season, Canucks prospect Aidan McDonough has cranked up his offseason workout plan and is looking to be atop with the NCAA scoring leaders during the 2021-22 season.
The big winger joined David Quadrelli and I on this past weekend’s episode 176 of the Canucks Conversation podcast. McDonough told us how happy he was to be back at Northeastern this summer as he took a class and worked out with his teammates in an offseason training program.
You can hear the full interview on the podcast which is conveniently located on the right side of this page if you’re viewing the article in a web browser.
We asked McDonough what his initial thoughts were when he found out that he was going to be named an assistant captain of the Northeastern Huskies this coming season.
“As soon as I stepped on campus my freshman year, I saw how special of a program it is and how things are run day-to-day and how many special guys played before me and set that culture and standard,” said McDonough. I saw such awesome leaders during my freshman year and even this year we had great leaders that just made me really want to be a part of that. I think when you learn what it takes to win, [as we did] winning a championship my freshman year and seeing what the older guys did to help bring us along and show us the ropes. Right away, I knew that I wanted to be that type of guy that helps the younger guys and the whole team to bring a championship back and I think that’s something that’s 100% in our reach this year.”
The Huskies have had a young team over the past two seasons, for that reason and his scoring ability, McDonough has been trusted as the trigger-man on the power play since his first day on campus. Now, the team is a couple of years older and those freshmen and sophomores are now juniors and seniors who are hungry for a National Championship.
Now that the pandemic is beginning to look like it’s on the mend, the Huskies have a big year planned for their program. McDonough said that he is looking forward to going to Switzerland in December while also keeping an eye on the Beanpot tournament, the Hockey East Playoffs and the National Championship Playoffs which will be held in Boston at the TD Garden.
One interesting tidbit from our conversation was that for the first time in his life, he is working with a skating coach. Her name is Dena Taylor and she is a well-known skating coach in Northeast America who has been praised for her work in developing players’ first three steps and explosiveness.
“Last summer for me was a lot about getting stronger, faster, and being in the weight room and I think I took a step there. Then, this summer I’ve gotten to a point of maintaining and trying to get stronger and faster but I want to be stronger on my edges. I want to be quicker off the block and then also in the corners while being able to protect pucks and use my skating ability. So, for the first time in my life, I’m going to a skating coach. Dena Taylor is a local skating coach in Boston and I have to give her a shoutout because she’s the best. She’s awesome and I’ve been going to her a couple of times a week and I already feel the difference when I’m on the ice. I feel a lot more confident on my skates. My edges and I feel confident over my skates and in the corners, cutbacks, we’re working on crossover acceleration as well. It’s an hour and a half, once or twice a week with no pucks, so it’s not the most fun but it’s been really good for my skating and hopefully, I’m gonna see some benefits here soon.”
We then spoke about what it was like watching his childhood friend Jack Rathbone make his NHL debut.
“As someone who’s grown up with him his whole life, seen how hard he works and everything he’s done to put himself in that position and knowing his family, I’m just so happy for him and his family,” said McDonough. “All of our buddies back home were texting in the group chat like a play-by-play and breaking everything down. We’re just so pumped for him because we know how good of a guy he is and how hard he’s worked and to see him be out there in the NHL and hold his own, I’ve been telling you that ever since we first started talking, you were asking about him when he was at Harvard, and I said he’s gonna play. Then when he was in Utica, I was like, ‘I think he’s gonna play if they give him a shot’ and then they did and he’s an NHL player now.”
We asked about the group chat on Rathbone’s NHL debut and the group chat got a little wild for one special moment.
“The two-on-one with Draisaitl and McDavid had the group chat going crazy,” said McDonough as he chuckled. “I don’t know how the play went down, but we all just saw McDavid and Draisaitl coming down on a two-on-one and we’re all texting in the group chat just going nuts. I think he probably got more texts from that play than he did when he scored his first goal.”
McDonough is in an important season of development and is now a step closer to turning pro and making an impact on the Canucks’ organization. He spoke about the contact he has had with the organization this offseason.
“We’ve had a few conversations and they’ve all been positive in terms of making sure I have the right resources. We both mutually agree that I should definitely see a skating coach to help clean up a few areas and they’ve been awesome and super helpful with everything. We’ve had some conversations getting ready for next year and they’re super excited to see me compete next year and to be thrown into that leadership role. To take it upon my shoulders to help lead the team, I think that’s their expectation of me and I’m super excited for that.”
We had to ask if he’s given any thought to going pro after this season.
“I think it’s too early to tell,” said McDonough. “I wish I had an answer for you guys but I’m focused on my season and focused on getting better and being the best player I can for Northeastern. My ultimate goal is to play in the NHL one day and whenever I’m ready for that and whenever the Canucks feel I’m ready, then I think that’ll be a decision that my family and the Canucks will make but for now I’m just focused on getting ready for my season and being the best player I can be.”
We closed out by joking about some personal goals for next season. He wouldn’t tell us the number that he has in mind for how many goals he can score but it was good to hear that he does have a number in mind that would be a goal to reach for next season.
McDonough is entering his third NCAA season and is now going to be relied upon to be a leader on a very strong Northeastern team. We will continue to follow his season closely as he continues to develop. For a seventh-round pick, he is blowing the doors off of expectations and looks like he could be making a difference for the Canucks as soon as next season once he wraps up his junior year.
We promise to be the first to report on when he decides to go pro.
I’m betting it’s this season…