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The London Knights seem to crank out high-quality prospects on a yearly basis. This year, the team’s top draft-eligible player is centre Connor McMichael. Drafted 11th overall by the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2017, and acquired by London in last season’s Robert Thomas trade, McMichael had a breakout season. After putting up just 16 points in 60 games as an OHL Rookie, he put up 36 goals and 36 assists for 72 points in 65 games this year. Things didn’t go quite as well in the OHL playoffs as McMichael was held to just five points in 11 games, and the Knights fell in the second round to the Guelph Storm. The Knights were a very deep team this year, especially at forward. The fact that McMichael earned the confidence of his coaches and was given plenty of ice time is a good sign for the future.
Born in Ajax, Ontario, McMichael represented Team Canada White at last season’s Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He put up a goal and three assists for four points in the six-game tournament. McMichael also played at the CHL Top Prospects Game. He scored the game-winning goal, capping a 5-4 comeback for Team Orr.
Connor McMichael Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Left
Born January 15th, 2001 — Ajax, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 174 lbs [183 cm / 79 kg]
McMichael is a very good skater, putting up some of the best test results at the Top Prospects Game. He has very good top-end speed along with good acceleration. This allows him to get into the offensive zone quickly on the forecheck as well as to be dangerous off the rush. He could stand to improve his first few steps, however, this is rarely an issue as McMichael does a very good job of always keeping his feet moving. He also has solid edgework, agility, and pivots. This allows him to get around defenders when he has the puck as well as get away from them without it. He has good balance and is strong on the puck against junior players. Increased lower-body strength would improve his game even more at the next level.
He is becoming more of a shooter this season, taking advantage of a better release on his wrist shot. He also has good accuracy and decent power. He also has an excellent one-timer, setting up close to the face-off dot to get it off on the power play. McMichael has the soft hands to make plays and finish in close to the net. He can beat defenders in one-on-one situations and create space. McMichael has a knack for getting open without the puck. He finds the soft spots in opposing defences and is always ready to convert a pass from a teammate.
McMichael also has excellent vision and hockey IQ allowing him to make the correct play. With the puck on his stick, he can extend plays in the cycle. He protects it well in junior and waits for teammates to get open. Going forward, he will need to bulk up in order to continue playing this style and be tougher along the boards and in battles for pucks in the pros. McMichael is a hard worker who brings a high compete level in all three zones. This play has earned an increase in ice time as the season has gone on, even on a strong Knights team.
McMichael is an excellent defensive forward. He has also shown strong instincts in the defensive end, with excellent positioning. McMichael helps support the defence down low and brings effective back pressure. He has a quick stick, effectively cutting down passing lanes and breaking up plays. He is not the biggest hitter but is more than willing to help clear the front of the net or work to dig pucks out of the corners. McMichael has worked to become strong in the faceoff circle this season.
Projection and Comparison
McMichael may not have the upside to be a true franchise centre at the NHL level. However, he is very well-rounded. If he develops correctly, he could become a second-line centre, capable of bringing offence and also playing against the opponent’s top lines. His strong defensive play and penalty killing instincts will endear him to coaches. McMichael’s game resembles Auston Matthews, however, this is a style comparison only and is not based on talent or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Connor McMichael that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
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