The San Jose Sharks nabbed an extra fifth-round pick during April’s trade deadline by sending goaltender Devan Dubnyk to the Colorado Avalanche, buying them 156 overall. With that pick, the Sharks selected forward Max McCue from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
As with several prospects, McCue was unable to play last season due to the shutdown of the OHL during the coronavirus pandemic. The 18-year-old center saw just one pre-draft ranking as a result, at 114 among North American Skaters, per NHL Central Scouting.
Prior to last season, McCue was a second-round pick in the 2019 OHL priority selection draft, and spent the 2019-20 season with the London Knights, playing in 34 games, scoring two goals and four assists, taking 22 penalty minutes. He represented Canada that season at the World Hockey Champion U17 on a Canada Black team stocked with 2021 draft talent, such as defender Brandt Clarke and center Zach Dean. In five tournament games, he scored two goals.
The Sharks weren’t the only team interested in the center, as The Sudbury Star reported that McCue spoke with several scouts over Zoom.
They also note that McCue has grown significantly over the last year, now standing at 6-foot-1 and 174 pounds. He’ll almost certainly need to add muscle mass before taking it to the next level, and he seems conscious of how that will improve his game.
“The overall weight really helps in the corners, when we’re doing battle drills and stuff,” he told The Sudbury Star. “I’m stronger on my feet, for my edges when I’m skating. When we’re doing skills, I’m really working on my hands and my shot, and I’m feeling pretty good out there, but the main thing for me was my weight and getting stronger on my feet. I can go in against older guys and get it out of the corners and make plays using my body.”
It’s unfortunately difficult to say what we can expect from McCue, due to his gap year. Next season will be the one to watch, especially since another Sharks 2021 draft selection, Liam Gilmartin, will be joining him on the Knights.