Landing in the 63rd overall spot in our draft ranking is USHL centre, Blake McLaughlin.
After getting his feet wet at the USHL level in 2016-17, he spent the entire season with the Chicago Steel where he put up close to a point-per-game pace throughout the regular season. He followed that up with seven points in seven playoff games.
The Grand Rapids native will be a long-term project given his size and the route that he chose but he is a smart player who could become an effective player.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.59/ February 14, 2000
- Birthplace: Grand Rapids, MN, USA
- Frame:5-foot-11/ 161 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Chicago Steel(USHL)
- USHL Clark Cup Champion
5v5 Pr INV%
McLaughlin was 6th overall in the USHL Futures Draft in 2016. He split the 2016-17 season between the Chicago Steel and his high school team, with most of his game action being at the USHS level. It was expected that he would do a similar split his year but had a good first half with the Steel and decided to remain in the USHL for the duration of the season.
He is committed to attend the University of Michigan next season.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
In all honesty, McLaughlin didn’t really push the envelope in any sense but also wasn’t a hindrance on his teammates. He hovered around 16 minutes a game of 5v5 play throughout the entire season with a slight dip to close out the regular season. His GF% numbers didn’t sway his linemates in one way or another and if they did, it wasn’t a major impact.
McLaughlin falls in line with this grouping of players that see about a 15% success rate among their cohorts. The expected production of 37.2 points per 82 games is also in line with what is expected for this region. He outproduced Patrick Sharp and Jason Zucker during his draft year and was slightly younger.
Blake McLaughlin is a skilled player who can dip and dangle with the best of them. His wrist shot is quick, accurate and deceptive and it is what allows him to be so deadly when he creates space for himself. He is creative with the puck and isn’t afraid to try a move to create more space for himself.
The Grand Rapids native is smart with his decisions and adjustments in the offensive zone and has some good playmaking abilities to make things happen.
McLaughlin is quick on his feet and edges but lacks strength in his stride. He is able get a quick couple strides to separate but lacks the ability to push himself past defenders when they have a chance to catch. He is able to deceive opponents though and use those strides to get a lane wide or cutting back in front. He is very slight and adding strength in the lower body will be a priority.
The biggest issue with his game is his size and strength, and it can result in him getting pushed around or boxed out. Going to the University of Michigan will allow him a longer development path and more time work on adding muscle to improve his deficiencies. Those strength issues are present in his defensive zone play as well. He is good at the backcheck and putting pressure on his opponents but can struggle to get the puck away if his opponent uses their body to push McLaughlin aside.
Furthermore, he needs to be consistent on a night in and night out basis – there was a huge drop in offence in second half of the season as well. When McLaughlin is on his game, he is noticeable and when he isn’t, he can disappear into the shadows.
He didn’t put up crazy numbers in the USHL and thus his underlying numbers leave a bit wanting but he is a smart player who has the potential to carve out a career as an effective middle six centre. With the added fact that his shot is a separating skill.
TSN Bob McKenzie
TSN Craig Button
The Hockey News
There’s a lot of nice offence in McLaughlin’s game. From passing to stick-handling, he makes things happen.