Aidan McDonough is one of the best goal-scorers in the NCAA, but will he sign in Vancouver?: CanucksArmy prospect rankings #6
Photo credit:Northeastern/Jim Pierce
By Faber9 months ago
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Now in his fourth season with Northeastern in the NCAA, Aidan McDonough is a big body who can score with the best NCAA players over the past few seasons.
McDonough is in the midst of captaining the Northeastern Huskies and has his eyes set on a run late in the season to get Northeastern back in the top-20 NCAA power rankings and into the conversation about a team that can play their way into the NCAA Frozen Four tournament.
There’s clearly an NHL-calibre shot in McDonough’s game and he has been spending a lot of time over the past two seasons working on the weaker parts of his game. McDonough has become a much more engaged defender and evolved from a power play specialist into an all-around scorer.
It’s a fluid situation with McDonough signing with the Canucks at the end of his season. We still lean towards believing that McDonough is going to sign with the Canucks after this season but there are a lot of whispers around the industry about McDonough pursuing free agency and picking a team of his choice to begin his pro hockey career. There’s a lot of winger depth in the Canucks’ system and the Canucks may be able to acquire an asset if they move McDonough’s rights before the deadline.
We believe there will be a lot of news around McDonough as the deadline approaches as well as his NCAA season comes to a conclusion and decision time strikes. For now, we are going to focus on the player in our prospect profile.
Aidan McDonough is a 6’2″ left winger who is currently captaining the Northeastern Huskies in his fourth NCAA season. He is 23 years old and was drafted by the Canucks in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
The most intriguing part of McDonough’s game is his shot. He is deadly with his shot from the right side of the power play and is showing that he is learning to use his size much more this season. McDonough is currently third in the NCAA for goals as he has 17 goals and 15 assists through 24 games.
An interesting stat is that up to this point in the season, through every game we tracked, McDonough did not have one shot blocked on the power play. He gets his shot off with quickness and has it down to a science with how efficient he is.
Now, this segment is going to feature a bunch of McDonough shots. Let’s just get a couple out of the way early.
The snap-shot is his go-to but we’ve seen success from his wrist shot over the past few years as well. McDonough is going to be able to score some goals in pro hockey. It feels like he would already be a player who could get time on an AHL power play but if he is able to gel with NHL players, he should be someone who gets a chance in the NHL on a second power play unit.
It’s easy to like McDonough’s shot. It has power behind it but the thing that impresses us most about his shot is how he can get it off while off-balance or while moving. It doesn’t need to be a perfect pass for McDonough to get a good shot off and with the pace in the NHL and the limited time that shooters have — this a big patt of how McDonough could have success at the NHL level one day.
We have seen improvements in his skating over the years and he very much looks like a different skater if you go back and compare his freshman season to his current senior year. It’s not to say that his skating looks like it’s at an NHL level — because it’s not. McDonough moves well when attacking but it doesn’t look like he has the acceleration to be able to beat an NHL defenceman on the rush like he is sometimes able to do in the NCAA when he matches up against a weaker skating defenceman.
Defensively, there have also been improvements over the years and this year specifically. McDonough looks like a much more engaged defender and has seemed to lean on his reach, which can be a good thing and hasn’t necessarily cost him at the NCAA level just yet. Once he is up against pros, you’ll likely have to reevaluate how good of a defender he is. He’s playing in front of the best goaltender in the NCAA and Devon Levi can make up for a lot of defensive errors. We aren’t too worried about McDonough in the defensive zone as he’s been blocking more shots this season and learning that he can use his long reach to his advantage.
We also recently read that McDonough had a late growth spurt and is looking like he added an inch to his height and may now be 6’3″. The kid has been working with a skating coach for the past two offseasons and was one of the shining stars at Canucks development camp in the summer.
The question about when McDonough could potentially be in the NHL feels like an easy one. He currently has enough skill and scoring prowess to be in the NHL on certain teams. With the Canucks, it may be difficult to get into the NHL lineup with so many roadblocks on the wing. McDonough could spend some time in the AHL or come into Canucks main camp next year and show that he looks like he belongs in the NHL.
Either way, we expect to see McDonough playing NHL games during the 2023-24 season. If he can adjust his game to fit more of a bottom-six role and work on his skating, he will last in the NHL. If not, he should be a heck of a goal scorer in the AHL for a long time.
As much as the question is about when, it should also be about if. The Canucks have the first crack at signing McDonough after his current NCAA season concludes sometime between late-March and early-April. McDonough can sign with the Canucks then or he can wait until August 15th and become a free agent. Options are always nice to a player but McDonough has said in the past that he’s a big believer in loyalty.
We will have to see what happens over the next two months!
This concludes our sixth-ranked prospect report. We will be back tomorrow as we head into the top-five of our rankings!
- Aidan McDonough
- Linus Karlsson
- Filip Johansson
- Jacob Truscott
- Arshdeep Bains
Honourable Mentions: Aku Koskenvuo, Joni Jurmo, Connor Lockhart, and Kirill Kudryavtsev.
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