Chances of Canucks signing prospect Aidan McDonough are trending upwards but not certain just yet
Photo credit:New England Hockey Journal
By Faber9 months ago
Now, I may not be an insider of NHL moves like Frank Seravalli or Shayna Goldman but one situation that I’ve been very close to over the past few years is Aidan McDonough as a Vancouver Canucks prospect.
There has certainly been some worry in fans’ eyes about the future of the Canucks and their NCAA scoring winger Aidan McDonough.
McDonough was drafted in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and the Canucks maintain his signing rights until August 15th, 2023.
After that date, McDonough is a free agent and can sign with any pro team worldwide.
We’ve heard a lot of rumours about McDonough not signing with the Canucks.
Many of the rumours swirl out of the same belief that the Canucks pushed too hard last year and that rubbed McDonough the wrong way. This could certainly be possible but we also know that McDonough has been staunch with how he speaks about the organization and values that the team spent a draft pick on him.
McDonough’s long-time close friend Jack Rathbone hasn’t been gifted many long NHL opportunities in his time with the Canucks organization but he has certainly been given a chance a few times at the NHL level. He’s still just 23 years old and is working on staying healthy and simply playing games. Rathbone is now being given the role of being the number one defenceman at the AHL level and when that is happening to a 23-year-old player, typically, the organization still has belief in the player.
I say all this because there’s a narrative out there about McDonough could be receiving a lot of negative feedback about the Canucks’ organization.
I don’t believe that to be true but I do see how it’s plausible.
Rathbone has been on a rollercoaster since he became a pro player. He came in during the Canadian Division COVID year, has played for five different head coaches (AHL + NHL), has had two different general managers, had to be stretchered off the ice on two separate occasions over an 11-month stretch and has seen a whole bunch of off-ice stories around the organization as well. He hasn’t been gifted anything but it’s simply been a rollercoaster of a pro career for the kid.
And did I mention that this has all happened in less than two years?
The rumours about McDonough hearing negative things from Rathbone just don’t seem to line up with the information we have been receiving.
Patrik Allvin confirmed that he made a visit to McDonough and his support system just after the World Juniors.
“I was able to get down there after the World Juniors and meet with his family and his advisors there,” said Allvin. “Aidan is a tremendous kid [with a] great family. Our development staff and Aidan have a great relationship. He’s one of the top scorers over the last four years in college hockey and we would be very excited to get Aidan in here. He wants to focus on Northeastern here and finish it up. So I would be very excited to have Aiden McDonough on our club next year.”
What we heard is that at this meeting, Allvin made a very good impression on the support system and it made the chance of McDonough signing with Vancouver much more likely.
Though there were improvements, McDonough signing with the Canucks is still certainly not a lock. Just minutes after I tweeted about this being a 60/40 on if McDonough signs with the Canucks or not, I heard from two different people that it’s likely higher than the 60% chance that I mentioned.
One source said the chance of him signing with the Canucks flipped positively into the team’s chances of signing the 23-year-old sniper after he believed the more likely scenario was that McDonough would finish up his NCAA career and then explore free agency.
The most consistent Canucks voice that McDonough has been involved with over the years is Ryan Johnson, the team’s assistant general manager and director of player development.
Johnson addressed the rumours that the Canucks pushed too hard for McDonough to leave college and sign last year after his junior season.
“There was never a conversation of pushing him [to sign],” Johnson said. “Aidan told us, ‘I want to go back to finish up. I want to get stronger. I want another offseason to improve my game.’ There was never once a conversation of we think you should sign now. It’s always been about supporting and understanding Aidan’s decision and why it is important to him. We support him and have continued to develop and build that relationship. We hope Aidan finishes up and then he’s ready to get on board and join the group. “It’s been a long runway with Aidan and he’s an outstanding player but he’s also an outstanding person. Our development staff has worked extremely close with him. I’ve spent a ton of time with Aidan at development camps talking with him after games and seeing him in Boston.”
We consistently see worries from fanbases when a drafted NCAA prospect elects to go back to school for their senior season.
And a lot of the time it does result in the player going to free agency.
The hope here is that due to some roadblocks from COVID, and other circumstances, McDonough returning for his senior season was more about him improving to be a pro with the Canucks instead of wanting to get away from the organization that has tried to help develop him over the years. There is certainly excitement from Canucks’ management and their development staff about the future of McDonough. But we just don’t know if McDonough is 100% going to sign with the team that drafted him back in 2019.
“Aidan is somebody who we’ve been excited about for a long time and he’s focused on finishing up his final games and days there at Northeastern,” Johnson said. “We’re hopeful that in the near future, Aidan is a part of our organization.”
So, we can’t give you an unadulterated answer on if we know whether McDonough is going to sign with the Canucks or not. What we can say with confidence is that Patrik Allvin’s meeting with McDonough’s family and support system did help the cause.
McDonough is focused on rolling through the Hockey East playoffs and hopefully getting a chance to play in the Frozen Four in April. We will closely follow his Huskies’ progression through the NCAA post-season and he could only be one loss away from being able to sign with the Canucks.
A decision is coming soon and we will surely be here to tell you about when that decision is made.
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