|6’1||188||6-4-04||C||L||4th 2020||28th MID||CANADA|
|2019-20||Alliance U-16||London Jr Knights||33||29||19||48|
|2020-21||OHL||DID NOT PLAY|
The fourth overall pick at the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, Bryce McConnell-Barker of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds, is in the same boat as most players from the OHL: the missed season of 2020-2021 lost them a year of development and puts scouts in the difficult position of not being able to evaluate development from one season to the next.
With that being said, here’s what I see:
McConnell-Barker is an accomplished 3-zone player already. But I do wonder why the offensive part of his game is not where I thought it would be. He has an NHL caliber shot but he’s averaging just two shots per game and that is way down the list of leaders for the Greyhounds.
The eye test sees two things. One, he is not getting into the dangerous areas enough to get that high quality shot at the target. And two, the Greyhounds are such a veteran team, that he’s not always in the best offensive positions. But he is getting powerplay time and to date has 3 goals and 3 assists on the PP which shows he can shoot the puck and also set up.
BMB is a good skater with some good speed, but not a burner. He gets in on the forecheck effectively and will not shy away from taking the body. Combine that with his shot, and I am left wondering whether BMB would be more effective on the wing as opposed to the middle.
But then I look at his defensive game and how far along he is in that department and with the added defensive responsibilities a center has, I believe playing down the middle is where he would be most successful at the next level.
BMB will attack the opposition through the neutral zone and ride them off the puck before they have the chance to enter his zone. If they are in the offensive zone, BMB isn’t shy about attacking the puck either, but he stays within himself and the system and won’t get caught out of position.
There are times when he’s shown he can break out of his zone and transition to offence. He has the ability to gain the zone and lead the attack.
At this point, I think BMB has shown enough that he could be a solid top-9 at the next level who can play a solid defensive role and kill penalties while providing the odd bit of offense. Finding consistency at this level in the second half will go a long way into deciding if he could provide more offensive production.
The tools are there as is the work ethic.