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Photo Credit: Rick Boots/Cedar Rapids RoughRiders

Canucks prospect Aidan McDonough on rumours of joining Team USA for the Olympics in Beijing

With a handful of NCAA players already invited to play with Team USA at the upcoming Beijing Olympics, Aidan McDonough’s name has been thrown in the mix for the next wave of invites.

The Canucks’ seventh-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft has worked his way up the ranks over his three years of college hockey and is now one of the most dangerous scorers in the NCAA. McDonough currently sits at third in the NCAA for goals with 15 potted in his first 19 games of the season.

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We caught up with McDonough last week to discuss what his future may be with the United States Olympic hockey team.

“Yeah, I mean I never said I would turn it down,” said McDonough when asked about making the decision to go to China and represent his country. “I would have to make the team first and then there would be a decision to make.”

When asked about the rumours of him being on Team USA’s radar, he told us that apparently, “that’s the word on the street.”

McDonough also went on Donnie and Dhali – The Team this past Monday and spent a bit more time talking about the Olympics.

“It’s pretty cool, I’ve never really been able to represent my country,” said McDonough. “To put myself in a position to have a chance to do that is pretty special. I haven’t heard much from USA hockey, I just know from my coaches and my agent that [USA] is picking a team and that I’m one of the guys that they are looking into to potentially make the team.”

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There is no drafted player with more goals in the NCAA. McDonough’s offseason work on his skating and continuous development of what many believe is already an NHL-level shot has given him a chance to potentially represent his country at the Olympics.

As he mentioned in his interview with Donnie and Dhali, McDonough has not represented the USA in the past as he was a late-bloomer — a big reason why he was available to the Canucks in the seventh round.

Frank Seravalli of DFO had released a list of the first 15 players that USA has invited to play with them at the Olympics.

This list saw seven drafted NCAA players get invited while none of the players have more goals than McDonough does this season. If USA is looking for a guy they can trust to score goals and be a big contributor on the power play, they should give the big Canucks prospect a shot on the wing.

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There was more news around McDonough as the question has begun to arise about his likeliness of signing with the Canucks after his NCAA season concludes.

McDonough joined David Quadrelli and I for a hit on the Canucks Warm-Up on Sportsnet 650.

We asked him about signing with the Canucks after this season and he didn’t exactly give the answer that Canucks fans wanted to hear.

“Everyone’s goal is to play in the NHL and to sign a contract at some point,” said McDonough. “My goal is to get better every day and do the best I can for Northeastern this year. And then, whatever happens at the end of the year, whether it be this year, next year, two years from now, three years, it doesn’t matter. I just want to make sure that I’m ready and I’m confident in the decision. It’s going to be one that I have to feel comfortable with, but to be completely honest, it is not something that I’m really thinking about at all at this point. I’m not going to focus on that right now.”

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NCAA prospects don’t typically like to speak on their NHL future while their college season is still in progress. McDonough is focused on getting to a national championship with Northeastern and making the most of his college career. It will become interesting once his season is over though. One of his best friends in hockey is a part of the Canucks organization in Jack Rathbone but the scout that watched him play as a preteen and took a seventh-round swing on him at the 2019 draft is not the scouting director for the Minnesota Wild. McDonough has a tough decision to make but we don’t have to look far when it comes to overthinking and worrying about an NCAA prospect signing with Vancouver.

Jack Rathbone went down to the final week before signing his deal with the Canucks and there was some worry in the fanbase before the team was able to get pen to paper on one of their top prospects. It’s likely that we see the same situation pan out with McDonough.

He will finish this year, and examine the Canucks team and where he fits this season. A contract offer should be on the table from the Canucks by the time McDonough finishes his season and the two sides will work to get something done and get McDonough with the organization as soon as possible.

It’s fine to worry that he won’t sign but looking back in history, most players in McDonough’s position end up signing with the team that drafted them. I’m not worried. For now, I’m excited to see if McDonough can get a chance to represent the USA at the Olympics in Beijing.