Mississauga, Ontario- Through 12 games with the Mississauga Steelheads, center Ryan McLeod has become an anchor for the team. One of the top prospects for the Edmonton Oilers, McLeod has demonstrated veteran leadership as a star player on the team. He is second in points on the Steelheads with two goals and 11 eleven assists through nine games. On Sunday’s contest against the OHL’s best team the Ottawa 67’s, McLeod scored a power play goal from the slot after a beautiful pass from Owen Tippett. Creating scoring opportunities on most of McLeod’s shifts is what gets Steelheads coach James Richmond excited.
“He’s a top forward in our league so we’ll play him against other team’s top players,” said Mississauga coach/general manager Richmond. “He’s good on faceoffs, he has speed and he’s hard on pucks, so he’s hard to play against.”
Ryan McLeod’s Dream of Making NHL Fulfilled
Ever since he was a young kid, Ryan McLeod always wanted to be a professional hockey player. His breakout season in Triple-A came in 2014-15 with the Toronto Marlboros, where he put up 30 goals and 51 assists. This got him drafted by his hometown Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL Priority Draft.
What NHL scouts immediately noticed with McLeod was his effortless speed and ability to break out into the attacking zone. His skating ability allows him to create scoring opportunities, utilizing his size and playmaking abilities in the offensive zone. In his draft year, McLeod dazzled scouts where he generated 70 points in 68 games (26 goals, 44 assists).
“He doesn’t stop competing and he uses his strength to win space and possession of the puck,” stated Aaron Vickers at futureconsiderations.ca. “He’s effective defensively and works hard at both ends. He knows what his responsibilities are and how to fulfill his duties in his own zone. He has upside as a top-six, two-way NHL centre.”
In the 2018 Entry Draft, the Oilers took the plunge and drafted McLeod in the second round. It was another savvy pick by Edmonton, looking to continue to add depth up the middle. It wasn’t a day after the draft that McLeod was off to Edmonton for the development camp, an experience he believes helped a lot in his transition to eventually becoming an NHL player.
“I think I’d rather have it right after draft so all of those nervous or excited feelings, you can get them out right then and know what you’re going into,” McLeod said. “I was really happy to go in there, figure out what they want from me and what the rink is like.”
McLeod Critical Asset for Steelheads
Unfortunately for McLeod, the Oilers sent him back to the OHL to continue to develop. But the move has turned into a blessing, particularly for the Mississauga offence, one of the best in the OHL. Not only did McLeod gain more offensive skills but he learned to use his size to become a more effective two-way player.
“Coming back from Edmonton, that was something I wanted to work on; playing against other teams’ top lines and playing down low,” McLeod said. “Matching up against the best every night will really help me do that. My game is offensive, but I can shut guys down.”
This season, he has created many scoring opportunities through his passing, setting up players like Owen Tippett and Cole Carter, who leads the Steelheads in points. Whenever the Steelheads have won, it is likely McLeod has recorded more than one assist. When the Steelheads won 4-3 against the Hamilton Bulldogs, McLeod recorded two assists. It his playmaking ability that the opposition has found difficult to contain. And Steelheads coach James Richmond hopes this continues for the young prospect as the season goes on.
“He’s a high-end National Hockey League pick for a reason,” stated Richmond after the Steelheads 3-1 loss to the Ottawa 67’s . “He has a ton of speed and skill, which drives our offence every game.”
“We’re really clicking right now,” McLeod stated. “Everyone respects everyone so it’s really good in the room. It’s fun to come to the rink every day.”