‘I learned so much this year’: Aidan McDonough brings four vital years of college hockey experiences as he signs with the Canucks
Photo credit:New England Hockey Journal
15 days ago
Not long ago, there was concern that Aidan McDonough might never put on the Vancouver Canucks uniform that he was drafted in.
Today, those fears were put to rest as McDonough signed his entry-level two-year deal with the Canucks worth $1.85 million. The 23-year-old winger finished up his collegiate career with the Northeastern Huskies on Saturday, ending his senior season with 38 points in 34 games.
The Canucks fully intend on burning the first year of his contract to get him into the lineup now, as they have with several recent college prospects like Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes and Adam Gaudette. And in speaking to the media on Monday afternoon, McDonough expressed his excitement to begin his NHL journey right away.
“Yeah, that would be amazing,” McDonough said about the prospect of playing NHL games this year. “To be able to play in the NHL is a dream come true, and I’m not entirely sure on the plan yet. But I think it’d be huge for my development right now, but also going forward into getting ready for next year.”
While he had been largely focusing on his own game and often unable to watch many games on the east coast, McDonough isn’t coming in completely blind to the Canucks’ standings situation. But he hopes his addition will bring some immediate help.
“[My] overall impression is there’s a lot of room for growth. They’ve been really good since the new coach took over and it just seems like a great place to go for a young player looking for an opportunity,” McDonough said.
That help McDonough could provide felt, at some points, like it might never come to fruition. After electing to play out his senior year rather than turn pro last season, rumours swirled that the Canucks’ former seventh-round selection in 2019 might go to free agency instead.
Thankfully, a deal was done and McDonough left Northeastern with an extremely valuable fourth season of college experience to draw from and credited the Canucks for accepting his choice.
“The Canucks, first off, last year were unbelievable with me. They gave me space to make that decision and they support me either way,” McDonough said about deciding to play his senior year. “I came back to develop on and off the ice, but obviously chase a championship. That goal unfortunately wasn’t able to be accomplished, but I learned so much this year.”
“I think I developed my game even more. Obviously, I was the captain this year and I think the life lessons and the maturity that I’ve learned being a captain, being able to manage players and working with the coaching staff. There’s just so many things that I think I’ve learned this year, that will prepare me for the future and for my pro hockey career.”
Along with learning how to take on a bigger leadership role at Northeastern, he also put time and effort into improving his skating.
“It’s a work in progress. It’s something that I’m gonna have to work on for the rest of my career, but I think it’s gotten better and I’m going to continue to work on it. It’s just a start for me in terms of my progress as a skater and [I’m] just looking forward to continue to get better at that.”
When McDonough does arrive in Vancouver, he’ll even be reunited with a good friend: former minor hockey teammate and current Abbotsford Canucks defenceman Jack Rathbone.
McDonough considered Rathbone a vital voice throughout the process.
“Obviously me and Jack are best friends. We grew up playing together forever and his dad was my coach, so I definitely talk to him a good amount,” McDonough said of Rathbone. “I think he did a really good job of letting me make my own decisions and kind of go with my gut, but I definitely picked his brain a lot. He has nothing but unbelievable things to say, both of the Canucks and Abbotsford.”
“He’s just a great resource for me to have along with so many other people. It was great to have his perspective.”
Fans are certainly excited to get their first look at McDonough in a Canuck uniform, be it in Vancouver or Abbotsford. But how soon he’ll hit the ice in blue and green for the first time likely depends on when the weather will cooperate.
“There’s a pretty good snowstorm hitting the east coast in the next few days, so I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be heading out,” McDonough said.
“But it will be soon, so I’m looking forward to heading out and getting started.”
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