What to expect from Aidan McDonough, and how the Canucks can put him in the best position to succeed

Photo credit:Northeastern/Jim Pierce
David Quadrelli
1 year ago
It’s been a good year for Aidan McDonough.
A little over a month ago, he secured his second Beanpot championship as a member of the Northeastern Huskies. In that game, McDonough scored the lone shootout goal to give his team a 3-2 victory over Harvard.
And on Monday morning, the Vancouver Canucks announced that they had agreed to terms with McDonough on a two-year entry-level contract.
Over the weekend, the soon to be 24 year old McDonough completed his fourth and final season of NCAA hockey, meaning that if he wanted to, he could have held out and chosen to go to NHL unrestricted free agency in August.
McDonough told CanucksArmy last May that his intention was to sign with the Canucks once his NCAA season was completed. Loyalty matters to McDonough, who ultimately chose to sign with the team that drafted him in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Now he’ll report to the NHL level Canucks, burning a year off of his two-year ELC. We expect him to join the team on their upcoming three game road trip and make his NHL debut against the Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, or Anaheim Ducks.
Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet spoke yesterday about how he’s going to go about giving McDonough a chance to make his debut.
“We’re going to try to get him into a game,” said Tocchet. “Great shot, really great scorer, needs to work on his skating a little bit, but apparently he’s a high level shot, so interested to see what he can do. It’s a tough one cause I like the way the team’s playing, so it’s not like he’s coming in and we’re going to put him in right now. We’re playing good hockey right now, a lot of guys deserve to stay in the lineup. You see if some guys’ play dips a little bit, but you don’t take a guy out if he has one bad game, but if you see consistency from a couple guys maybe you pop him in there, which is okay, but we haven’t made that decision yet.”
Let’s dive further into McDonough, the player.
McDonough is almost certainly going to spend the majority of next season with Abbotsford, and maybe even the entire season. The biggest hole in McDonough’s game is his skating and it’s something he’s shown a commitment to working on. Last summer, McDonough hired a skating coach.
“I think I’ve improved,” said McDonough. “Obviously it’s a little different in season, I wasn’t working with a skating coach while I’m playing here at Northeastern, but it’s a work in progress. It’s something that I’m gonna have to sorry about 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. You know, 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.”
Working with skating coach Mackenzie Braid in Abbotsford is certainly going to help McDonough out in his efforts to improve his skating ability, as will working with the rest of the development staff. The organization’s investment into prospect development and into Abbotsford were a major selling point from the Canucks when McDonough was making his decision.
But enough about his weaknesses, let’s talk about the best part of McDonough’s game: his shot.
One timer, wrist shot, snapshot, slap shot, no matter the type of shot, McDonough can let it go at a high level. See for yourself!
The left-shot McDonough is dangerous from just about anywhere in the offensive zone, and shows solid instincts to get into open space. With just a little bit of time and space, McDonough can rip the puck with tremendous power and accuracy seemingly in the blink of an eye.
McDonough is right at home on his off wing on the power play, the spot Elias Pettersson currently mans for the Canucks’ first unit.
To put him in the best position to succeed down the stretch, the Canucks would be wise to give McDonough an opportunity to play alongside JT Miller or Elias Pettersson, and to give him a shot where he’s comfortable on the second power play unit.
It’s unlikely McDonough comes in and wins a job out of training camp next year, but his chances are certainly better if he gets a good chance to gain valuable NHL experience down the final stretch of this season.
Out of a playoff spot but still demanding a lot from their players when it comes to structure and effort, now is as good a time as any for the Canucks to give McDonough that opportunity to see what he can do against the best players in the world.

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