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Possible First Round Pick: Mark McNeill

Mark McNeill (via Maple Leafs Hot Stove)

Mark McNeill (via Maple Leafs Hot Stove)

The Rangers currently have five defensemen under the age of 28 on their roster and two more top prospects on the way, so it’s very likely New York will be looking to add some offensive firepower with its first-round pick, No. 15 overall in the NHL Draft.

Between now and June 24th, we’ll take a look at some of the forwards that the Rangers might be thinking about taking on draft day.  Today, we look at…

Mark McNeill

HT: 6-1

WT: 204

Pos: C

Shoots: R

Birthday: 2/22/93

Team: Prince Albert, WHL

2009-2010 stats: 9g, 15a, 68gp, 27PIM, -10

2010-2011 stats: 32g, 49a, 70gp, 53PIM, -4

2010-2011 playoffs: 2g, 3a, 6gp, 2PIM profile > 



The Hockey News: 16

CSS: 14 Midterm Rank: 22

ISS: 20 

TSN: 19 Midterm Rank: 22 

TSN (Craig Button): 30

The Scouting Report: 13 Midterm Rank: 19 

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: 17

Corey Pronman: 9

ESPN: 21


Highlight Reel > 


What They’re Saying:

THN – “With a frame that screams pro, scouts are excited about how strong Mark McNeill can get.  Truth is, the young pivot may not even know his own strength right now.  But the Prince Albert Raiders star is a smart kid who fast-tracked through high school and was responsible enough as a forward to be trusted with point duties on the first power play unit.  So he’ll figure it our pretty quickly.  Hockey sense and composure allowed him to take on that point man role, but McNeill’s best assets are still based on physical aspects.  ‘He’s developed a very versatile game as a power forward,’ a scout said.  ‘He plays well on the perimeter, but also goes to the net well.’  A gym rat who doesn’t take short cuts when he trains, McNeill played right wing last year, so he’s an adaptable forward and has excellent vision.  Scouts see a player similar to Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan.”

The Scouting Report – "McNeill did a lot of things well this year. On a weak team, McNeill proved that he could compete and succeed against the best players from around the WHL with minimal help as he tallied 81 points in 70 games this year. McNeill has a nice mix of speed, size and grit. He was among the fastest skaters at the CHL Top Prospects game and combining that with his size and grittiness make him hard to handle when he is on his game. He can be guilty of taking the occasional shift off, but his combo of speed, skill and grittiness (including a willingness to fight) allow him to project nicely as a 2nd line center."

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch – “This bull of a center is one of the draft's meteoric risers. We talked to his former Prince Albert teammate Ryan Button, who is in Providence of the AHL right now after being traded to Seattle at mid-season, and Button raved about McNeill's physical maturity (6-2, 210 and capable of getting even stronger sources say), pure strength and skill package. McNeill scored 32 goals and 81 points for the lowest-seeded team to make the WHL playoffs (and went out in the opening round against Saskatoon), and McNeill then had an excellent postseason as well, despite being the focus of the Blades' checking attention. He's a powerful skater who goes to the net, fights off checks and has the vision, hands and stick to be a legitimate scorer at the next level.” 

Corey Pronman - "Mark McNeill has been one of the major risers in this year's class who looks like a very projectable player at the next level. McNeill is a solid skater who gets up to a notable top speed and flashes decent agility. He displays good conditioning and it is apparent in how he flies up the ice end-to-end for full games. I don't think he'll be turning defenders around at the next level, but he's going to be able to skate with the average pro. Mark has above-average puck skills with the ability to be hard on the puck and protect it, flash a solid deke, and make heady distributions with spurts of above-average ability in that department. While I have not seen him get enough scoring chances to get an accurate read of his shot, scouts I've talked to rave about his shot mechanics and his placement ability with it. McNeill's best quality is in regards to his hockey sense, as he thinks the game at a notably above-average level and has a very advanced defensive game for a pre-draft prospect. He comes back and supports his defenders on every shift with good positional and physical play and rarely leaves the zone until he's sure there's no threat, but yet still puts offensive puck possession pressure on the opposition. There are very few holes in Mark's game, and he's a prospect that can fast track to the NHL and be playing scoring minutes within a couple of years." – “Ask someone to name the best power forwards in the NHL right now, and names on the list likely would include Rick Nash, Ryan Getzlaf and Mike Richards.  Prince Albert Raiders center Mark McNeill might be added to that list in the coming years. Ranked 22nd by NHL Central Scouting in its mid-term rating of North American skaters, McNeill has been wowing scouts across North America with his impressive ability to make plays and power his way to the net. The 6-foot-1, 204-pound center leads his team with 30 assists and is second with 50 points in 45 games.  ‘He's one of those kids that has the ability to do so many different things,’ Raiders coach/GM Bruno Campese told ‘He's got so much upside to him. ... He's a powerful skater and has great hockey sense. He's got very good basic skills and he's got the ability to be a real tough person to play against. He's got the mental capabilities to understand the game as well.’” – “There hasn’t been a ton to cheer about in Prince Albert in recent years, but McNeill and a young crew of Raiders are working hard to change that. In fact, McNeill worked hard all summer in preparation.  ‘It was a huge off-season for me,’ said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Edmonton native. ‘I worked out five days a week for two-and-a-half to three hours with Barry Butt of Premier Strength.’  Butt’s NHL clients include Jason Chimera and Jay Bouwmeester, which gave McNeill a chance to see what the pros do. He also skated with NHL and American League pros every Tuesday. The end result for the two-way power forward is 12 points in his first nine games, good for second on the team. And, the Raiders are sitting second in their division.  ‘We’re playing all 60 minutes and playing structurally sound hockey,’ McNeill said.  Checking out Prince Albert’s roster, there is a lot of youth alongside 2011 prospect McNeill, but so far it’s working. As for an Edmonton boy shacking up in Prince Albert (pop. 40,000), the big center is loving it.  ‘Yeah, big city kid going to a small town,’ McNeill noted. ‘But it was great coming to a town where everything is Raiders. And it’s good to be looked up to by the little kids.’” 

The Hockey Writers - “Mark McNeill, the Prince Albert Raiders powerful, gritty forward showed why he should be a top 15 draft selection in this years NHL Entry Draft last season. He uses a combination of grit, with good playmaking ability to make him one of the top centers in the Western Hockey League.  A player that thrives on being strong on both ends, McNeill is also never afraid to drop the gloves and stick up for his teammates. To add to his impressive total of 81 points this year, he also finished with 53 penalty minutes.  Defensively, McNeill plays the shutdown role very well. He uses his strength and strong positioning to easily knock opposing players off the puck. He is also a strong faceoff man, which in addition to his strong defensive game makes him a good penalty killer.  It will be very interesting to see how McNeill progresses again next year. While playing for one of the worst teams in the WHL McNeill was still able to put up a impressive point total, and single-handedly carried his team for most of the year.  The offensive aspect of his game is not often discussed like his defensive aspects, but that doesn’t mean he is lacking one. McNeill works hard along the boards, and can score while driving hard to the next. He also has impressive playmaking abilities, which were overshadowing by the teams lack of finishers this year.  That team that drafts Mark McNeill should think of it as a great investment for a championship roster. Players like McNeill are important pieces to dynasties and winning teams.”

Jess Rubenstein – “McNeill is someone to keep an eye on as he has a strong playoff for Prince Albert this year. Decent size and good skill and looks like his game is finally coming together.”


Mock Drafts:

Adam Kimelman, – 14 

Mike Morreale, – 15 

Steven Hoffner, – 14

Deven Persaud, - 12 – 15 

Gary Joyce, ESPN – 16 

Mark Seidel, CBC – 19 

Hockey's Future - 12

The Hockey News - 17


Thoughts: McNeill sounds like the kind of players the Rangers would target.  He’s a big-bodied center with offensive ability, but he plays a responsible game and isn’t afraid to be involved physically.  His whole life revolves around hockey and he has the chance to develop even more.  With a strong skill-set already in place, McNeill sounds like a can’t miss pick.

The Rangers selected Dylan McIlrath out of the WHL last year.  McNeill’s frame may remind fans of 2003 first-round pick Hugh Jessiman, but he seems like a safe bet to succeed.


Season Review:

Breaking Down The Defense >

Breaking Down The Goalies >

Breaking Down The Offense >

Breaking Down The Prospects >

How Three Free Agent Signings In 2007 Have Shaped The Eastern Conference >

Spotlight On Glen Sather >

Spotlight On John Tortorella >


Player Reviews:

Spotlight On Mats Zuccarello >

Spotlight On Brian Boyle >

Spotlight On Matt Gilroy >

Spotlight On Ruslan Fedotenko >

Spotlight On Brandon Prust >

Spotlight On Bryan McCabe >

Spotlight On Alex Frolov >

Spotlight On Michael Del Zotto >

Spotlight On Martin Biron >

Spotlight On Brandon Dubinsky >

Spotlight On Marc Staal >


Possible First Round Pick:

Zack Phillips >

Sven Bartschi >

Mark Scheifele >

Mika Zibanejad > 

Mark McNeill >



Posted by Kevin Baumer | May 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

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