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Photo Credit: Rick Boots/Cedar Rapids RoughRiders

Aidan McDonough is potentially the best late-round pick of the Benning era: CanucksArmy prospect rankings #6

Things are about to get exciting as we close in on the top end of the Vancouver Canucks’ prospect pool.

Coming in at number six is a 21-year-old winger with an NHL-level shot who has progressed nicely in his two years of NCAA hockey after being selected in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

It’s time to get into the shooting specialist and assistant captain of the Northeastern Huskies.

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Canucks fans, let’s talk about Aidan McDonough.

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 205 lbs

Age: 21 (22 on November 6th)

Position: LW

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Handedness: L

2021-22 Team: Northeastern Huskies (NCAA)

If everything goes right for McDonough this season, we will be talking about his entry-level contract with the Canucks in mid-April. The NCAA’s final four is set to take place at the TD Garden in Boston from April 7-9th and McDonough and his Northeastern Huskies have a good chance to be fighting for the NCAA title.

McDonough has already made some great hockey memories in the Garden. He had four points in the 2019 Beanpot finals and had the primary assist on the game-winning goal in double overtime.

During his freshman season, he was a power play specialist who dominated with the man advantage. He is deadly from the right side on his quick one-timer shot but can also walk his way up to the line and find teammates for easy backdoor finishes.

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The evolution in his sophomore season was impressive because he was able to become a more dominant player once his Hobey Baker finalist linemate Tyler Madden left school. McDonough knew that he could be “the guy” on a line in his sophomore season and that’s exactly what he was. The power play excellence was still there but McDonough was able to drive play, create and extend offensive possessions, all the while becoming a more well-rounded defender.

Out of every prospect in the system, nobody has been trending up as hard as Aidan McDonough. This upward trending is not expected to slow up as he heads into his junior season with the Huskies. McDonough told CanucksArmy that for the first time in his career, he is working with a power skating coach and has made major improvements to the mechanics of his skating. This was the big knock on his game when he was a freshman and though he improved for his sophomore season, it still was not at a high level.

Canucks fans should be excited to see what a power skating coach can do to this goal-scoring machine. McDonough works on his shot every day in the offseason and is a shooter at multiple goalie camps throughout the summer. He also has a life-long friendship with Jack Rathbone and that may be a big reason why he wants to come out of school after this coming season concludes.

One of the most exciting parts about McDonough’s coming season is that he has the potential to be one of the top-scoring players in the nation. Northeastern is set to have a stacked power play unit and McDonough is the driving force of that unit. He has been around a point per game player, but this coming season, he will hope that his game evolves one again and he can be somewhere in the 1.2-1.5 points per game threshold.

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The most notable change in his game to watch this season will be his skating improvements. It’s a bit of a letdown to hear that the Canucks organization didn’t step in to help with a skating coach as soon as they drafted him. This lack of prospect support should raise some eyebrows on Canucks fans regarding how much is being done to support the club’s drafted players.

If skating has been his biggest issue since being drafted, you’d think the Canucks should have stepped in and given him all the necessary help to improve his skating. In McDonough’s situation over the past couple of years with COVID-19, I understand it’s tough, but to hear that this is the first summer he has ever had a skating coach seems like a missed opportunity from the organization.

The good news is that he worked with a skating coach all summer. From my conversations with him, it’s more about working the edges and how to gain move power on his stride. The coaching that he received was so drastic that his coach was calling him Bambi at the first session because of how much he was falling over. Since that first practice, McDonough says it’s made a massive improvement and that his skating stride will look different next season.

Last season, he proved that he could run a line on his own without Tyler Madden and this fall, he will look to be a leader for Northeastern while also being a scoring leader in the NCAA. He wouldn’t tell me his personal goals for the season but I asked him to blink twice if it was 25 goals.

Did he blink twice?

I‘ll never tell.

McDonough is about as good as you can do for a seventh-round pick. His NHL future is bright and we could see him in the Canucks’ lineup as soon as this April. He’s taken massive steps in his two years of NCAA hockey and this season is the showcase year. If he shows well, the Canucks will be looking to get him signed at the conclusion of his NCAA year and McDonough will add a high-end scoring touch to the AHL Canucks as he works his way up to the NHL in the coming years.

He has taken advantage of his god-given size and continues to master his wicked shot. One thing we will keep an eye out for this season is if he can expand his scoring zones. We know he is deadly from the right side and the slot but if he can add some goals from the left side of the ice, he will prove that he’s ready for pro hockey.

McDonough is a huge win for the Canucks’ scouting department and he continues to trend towards the NHL and that is why he comes in at number six on our prospect ranking list.

He will play NHL games in the next two years and that is a massive win for a seventh-round pick. On top of what he does on the ice, he’s an excellent human off the ice and is the type of person that every organization wants to have on their team.

We will cover the heck out of his junior year with Northeastern and continue to update you on his progression towards becoming a pro.

McDonough may turn out to be the best late-round pick of the Benning era and will be a top-three prospect in our rankings next year.

Previous Rankings Articles:

15. Lucas Forsell, W
14. Arturs Silovs, G
13. Viktor Persson, RD

12. Arvid Costmar, C/RW

11. Hugo Gabrielson, LD/RD

10. Dmitri Zlodeyev, C
9. Joni Jurmo, LD
8. Jonah Gadjovich, LW
7. Jett Woo, RD
6. Aidan McDonough, LW