It’s safe to say that the London Knights are one of the best teams to play for if you want to be drafted in the first round of the NHL draft. Producing players like Max Domi, Bo Horvat, Patrick Kane, and Mitch Marner, to name a few, London is always a city buzzing with NHL scouts.
Who is Connor McMichael:
After a lackluster rookie season split between Hamilton and London, Connor McMichael’s draft year stands out even more due to the depth of the Knights roster and his inability to get ice-time in his first year. After only managing 16 points in his first season; McMichael ended the 2018/19 regular season with 36 goals, 36 assists for a total of 72 points as he played every game during the regular season and was among the leaders in offensive ice-time for the Knights. In the playoffs, he managed five points in the eleven games he played and was a (-1) over the two series London played. The London Knights also took the OHL Champions Guelph Storm to game seven, and almost advanced to the conference finals.
Playstyle and NHL comparison:
McMichael is a smaller centre with an elite shot and a mature hockey sense. His weaknesses are inconsistency, and his shorter frame which restricted his ice time in earlier years. As smaller players have been increasing in the NHL this should not drastically impact his draft stock; however, scouts do look for consistency especially in potential first-round picks.
He has a playstyle akin to an Auston Matthews. However, his potential is more of a Top-6 centre rather than an Elite/Franchise level player. He also shares similar characteristics with aforementioned former Knight Bo Horvat who has found his niche on the Vancouver Canucks backing up Elias Pettersson. The London Knights system is also excellent at developing leaders in the NHL and McMichael should follow Horvat and many others in that trend.
He is expected to be picked at the end of the first round however consensus has him from anywhere as a fringe top-20 pick to an early second-round steal. Most rankings have him in the late first-round but don’t be surprised if a team picks him earlier to fill a need down the middle.
Which NHL Team(s) could benefit most from his skillset:
Several Canadian teams could benefit from McMichael’s skillset as it takes a deep lineup to make it far in the playoffs. The Ottawa Senators (19th selection) and the Calgary Flames (26th selection) would greatly benefit from a young centre who has the potential to break the top-6 in a future deep playoff run. The Senators will need to fill the holes left at the centre position by Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris’s departure, and McMichael could be the perfect long term solution for their woes.
Other teams who would benefit from drafting McMichael include the Dallas Stars and the New York Rangers, who own picks at 18th and 20th respectively.