This season has been, if nothing else, one of adjustments. We’ve seen that really across the board, but we’ve seen it particularly with our next player up on the draft board.
With the OHL season ultimately being cancelled this year, that left Mason McTavish, who spent last season with the Peterborough Petes, in a bit of a bind. Finding a way to get playing time was going to be a challenge, but it’s one that perhaps still worked out for him, as he got an early taste of professional hockey this season, as he got in a handful of games with EHC Olten, in Switzerladnd’s second-tier professional league. It was an abbreviated look, to be sure, but he was able to find a way to be effective in a league full of grown men, and pairing that with an impressive 2019-20 season in the OHL and U-18 international run this year, that’s certainly turned some heads.
BSH 2021 Community Draft Board, No. 11: Mason McTavish
Team: EHC Olten (SL)
Statistics: 9 G, 2 A in 13 GP
No. 2 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 15 by FC Hockey
No. 29 by Dobber Prospects
No. 10 by Wheeler/The Athletic
What’s there to like?
To start with the obvious, there’s McTavish’s size—he’s got a good frame and at 18 years old, he’s already 6’1” and 207 pounds. There certainly isn’t as much physical developing needed in his case as in some other players in this top prospects group, and the added bonus is that he’s already well able to play with this frame. He plays a heavy, quite physical game, and is able to leverage his frame well in battles.
But that physicality, while a nice skillset, doesn’t make for the whole of McTavish’s game, though it may be what immediately strikes viewers. McTavish’s offensive skillset is an exciting one. He’s a creative playmaker, and there’s a certain fearlessness to his game as he looks to make those plays, and sometimes that can get him in trouble, but you can’t say that he’s not competing well and always trying to make something happen. He brings a lot of power with his game, and isn’t afraid to drive the net, looking for high danger chances, and we see that paired with a tenacious play on pucks, attacking well, and that makes him difficult to play against.
The one piece of his offensive game that stands out the most, perhaps, is his shot. He has good hands to score in tight, but his shot from a distance really pops. It’s a heavy shot that he’s able to get through traffic well, and with the amount of force and speed that he’s able to get on it, it’s often overpowering for goalies, and that makes him a pretty constant scoring threat.
And, as we mentioned earlier, it’s worth remembering that McTavish found a lot of success this season playing against grown men. Yes, it was only 13 games, and yes it wasn’t against the same competition that some of the players in this same class faced in, for example, Liiga or the SHL, but it’s still professional experience, and that’s going to be huge to his development.
What’s not to like?
There are a couple of smaller areas where McTavish’s game will need a bit of cleaning up, but the good news is that we aren't really looking at any positively major holes. He has a tendency to get a bit of tunnel vision on plays, and that can get him into a bit of trouble. We’d also like to see his defensive support continue to develop (but that’s something that we can expect to come along with work and age). His skating also needs a bit of work—he isn’t a poor skater, to be sure, and he has pretty good speed, but that’s just never going to be a real hallmark of his game. He moves okay, but he’ll likely struggle to create real separation, especially as he moves up to the NHL level.
But the real question, as we’ve seen debated by scouts, is of McTavish’s upside. There’s still some disagreement on whether we’re looking at a player who can develop into a bonafide top line talent, or if he’s likely to pan out as more of a middle of the lineup, complimentary player. No matter what, the team that drafts him is getting a very good player, but where teams see that upside lying is going to really impact where he ends up being selected.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
We know, first and foremost, the Flyers would be advised to not come into this draft looking very seriously to only draft for position, because we’ve seen that get teams into trouble in the past. But, that said, the center position is certainly one of need in the Flyers’ pipeline, and the idea that they could pick up an impact center in the first round is certainly an enticing idea.
But as far as his style goes, it is pretty easy to see a fit. With McTavish’s engaged, physical style, plus strong shot, that’s something that we could see complimenting well the Flyers’ current lineup. He isn’t going to bring a booming physical game with hits galore that certain groups may be hoping for (sorry gang) but his skill is a boost, and it’s balanced well with a certain tenacity and well developed physicality.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
We’ve talked a lot so far about the lack of consensus on players and where they should be taken with this draft, and if there was ever a clear example of that, it would be with McTavish. There are certainly some parties that could see him being taken in the top-10, which would put the Flyers in a position of needing to move up if they’ve absolutely fallen in love with him and want to grab him. But, more projections have him going closer to the middle of the first round, which would have him on the board when the Flyers are set to make their regularly scheduled 13th overall pick. So this is a maybe, but leaning more towards a probably. Really precise stuff here.
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Fabian Lysell — RW, Luleå (SHL)
Lysell is one of the more talented players in the draft, who beats defenders consistently with his puckhandling displays. That he’s a great skater, with both good speed and edgework and can make very skilled plays at full flight, makes him a handful to defend. On his best shift, Lysell is using his skill and speed to get around guys and take pucks to the net, or making tremendous plays with pace to his teammates. His physical effort comes and goes off the puck, but with the puck he plays with courage. - Corey Pronman, the Athletic
Who should be no. 12 on the 2021 BSH Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed
2021 BSH Community Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, Nove Zamky (Slovakia)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton (WHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Luke Hughes — D, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frölunda HC J20 / J20 Nationell - 21/22
- Kent Johnson — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Aatu Räty — C, Kärpät U20 and Kärpät (Liiga)
- Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå (SHL)
- Mason McTavish — C, EHC Olten (SL)