Weight: 185 pounds
Date of birth: June 13, 2001
Hometown: Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
Position: Right Wing
OHL Draft: Round 5, 98th overall, 2017 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Preseason: not ranked, November: C prospect, Midterm: 96th NA.
Like Greyhounds before him, Cole MacKay is having an impressive draft season that is making him climb up draft boards. That’s not to say he will end up being another Morgan Frost who climbs all the way into the first round on draft day, but considering he was not on NHL Central Scouting’s players to watch list coming into the season to where he is now shows there is something to watch there. Not to mention he was a 5th round pick at the 2017 OHL Priority Selection.
MacKay grew up playing in the Sault Ste Marie hockey leagues and playing for the Greyhounds was a dream come true. However, he spent a year in Minor Midget AAA with the Kitchener Jr Rangers, during the 2016-2017 leading the league in goals (30) while adding 16 assists in 32 games. He also appeared in the OHL Cup and OHL Gold Cup.
MacKay broke onto the OHL scene a season ago appearing in 42 games and scoring 5 goals and adding 9 assists playing a limited role. However, as his responsibilities increased this season, along with prime specialty teams time, his offence has skyrocketed to 25 goals and 29 assists in 56 games.
MacKay can be an offensive threat in any situation. He can be the shooter on the powerplay (9 goals) as well as the setup guy (9 assists). But he can be a threat on the PK as well, having a shorthanded goal while setting up 3 others.
MacKay has an above average shot with good velocity, a quick release and deadly accuracy. His 18% shooting percentage is evidence of his ability to shoot. When you break it down by shot location, it becomes more impressive. He has 4 goals on 28 high danger shots (14.3%) versus 9 goals on 20 shots (45%) from the mid-danger areas versus 12 goals on 91 shots (13.2%) from low danger shot areas.
Besides MacKay’s shooting ability, his other strengths are his non-stop motor and work ethic and his high hockey smarts. He is relentless in his puck pursuit and never gives up on a play. He leaves 100% out on the ice each and every shift and he works his tail off in the defensive zone as well.
MacKay uses his above average vision and hockey sense as well as anybody. Defensively, he knows where he needs to be and uses excellent anticipation skills and an active stick to defend. Offensively, he protects the puck extremely well, can slip into lanes to make himself available, and has some shiftiness to create lanes to find teammates. And despite his size, if he can’t create a lane, he shows no hesitation in taking the disk to the net himself.
The knock on MacKay however is his skating. Most would agree that he needs to improve his first-step explosiveness that is lacking, especially with his size. While I will agree it needs work, I don’t agree that is detrimental. It’s average to slightly above average.
Secondly, MacKay lacks a separation gear that could only help him offensively. And that has some truth to it. But when I read some scouting reports, it makes it sound as though he is slow. Again, its average and he is still providing offence. Sure, that extra gear will help however, I think he can show some improvement in the areas with a commitment to improving.
I mentioned teammate Morgan Frost earlier. And while I am in no way suggestion MacKay can jump all the way to the first round come June’s NHL Draft in Vancouver, I thought it would be fun to look at a comparison chart of their draft years courtesy of Prospect-Stats.