2021-22 Team: Noble & Greenough High School (HIGH-MA)
Date of Birth: February 24, 2004
Place of Birth: Weston, Massachusetts
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 50th (Among NA Skaters)
There will always be prospects that fall through the cracks — take Ben MacDonald as an example. The NHL’s Central Scouting Service ranked him 60th among all North American skaters on their midterm list, ahead of the high-scoring Jordan Dumais from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and powerful forward Reid Schaefer out of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Still, no other publication featured him in their top-100 prospects. In NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking, they bumped MacDonald up to 50th, but again, no one knew who he was. That might change, though, after he was included in the NHL’s Draft Combine, where he was one of 96 players invited to attend the event and interview with NHL scouts and managers.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
From the few clips available online, MacDonald is an interesting prospect. He primarily is an offence-minded forward who can drive the play. In 22 games with his Massachusetts high school, he had 14 goals and 29 points, leading his team in both categories and finishing top 10 in conference scoring. Due to a shorter season, he was able to also play 23 games with the East Coast Wizards’ U18 AAA squad, where he put up an impressive 47 points, an average of over two points per game. Had that been in a league like the QMJHL or WHL, he would have been one of the highest-scoring 18-year-olds of all time.
However, MacDonald does not play in those leagues, but rather has spent his time in the sparsely-scouted high school circuit, which brings into question how he will fare against stronger competition. He demonstrates good offensive instincts, keeps his head up while his team is on the attack, and is always looking where he can jump in to take a pass and fire a powerful shot on goal. His skating is equally impressive, as he has strong, quick strides that help him generate decent speed, and although he’s not the fastest player on the ice, his intelligence helps him find open spaces that can be created with a quick turn or sudden stop. All these aspects are what scouts look for in future NHLers.
MacDonald also grew nearly two inches this year, shooting up from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-1, which almost certainly gave him an advantage against fellow high schoolers and will not help as well as he moves on. He seems to have good hustle and a strong work ethic, but his defensive pressure is lacking and as a center, that will also hurt him in more competitive leagues. Watch the clip below, where his goalie bails him out of a breakaway attempt. MacDonald nearly catches him, but when it’s clear he can’t, he drifts away, letting his teammates pick up the loose puck.
Thankfully, scouts will get a chance to see how he manages strong competition next season, as he has committed to join the West Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League, one of the premier Junior A leagues in North America. He also has committed to join Harvard University for 2023-24, following in the footsteps of his father, Lane MacDonald, who spent five seasons there. At Harvard, he was a two-time Conference All-Star, twice named New England’s Most Valuable Player, led the Crimson to an NCAA championship title in 1989, and still leads the franchise with 111 career goals. Those are big footsteps to follow, but MacDonald seems to be up to the task. The only question remaining is whether an NHL team wants to wait and find out if he will succeed.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Ben MacDonald – NHL Draft Projection
It’s anyone’s guess as to where MacDonald ends up. Corey Pronman of The Athletic lists him at 76, but no one else has seemingly paid him any attention. Most high school players tend to go in the latter half of the draft, as they are far more unpredictable in their development. They also take much longer to develop; since 2017, only five players drafted from high school leagues have played in the NHL, and four of them are from the 2017 class. Yet after Yegor Chinakhov was selected in the first round, anything is possible. If MacDonald impresses enough teams at the Combine, he could be an early pick in July.
“MacDonald is a forward with an intriguing talent level. He’s a skilled player who can make plays and do so with pace. He’s not a burner but can create through the neutral zone with speed. He also shows the ability to slow the game down and create off the perimeter with his vision. MacDonald’s compete is fine, but I find his game inconsistent at times. The talent level gives him a chance but whether he can find an actual NHL role is to be determined based on how he does at higher levels.” Corey Pronman, The Athletic (from ‘NHL Draft 2022 top 127 prospects: Juraj Slafkovsky leads Corey Pronman’s list,’ The Athletic, 31/05/22)
- Good vision
- Strong shot
- Intelligence and awareness
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Limited exposure to high-end competition
- Defensive pressure
Just like it’s anyone’s guess where MacDonald will be drafted, it’s very hard to say if he’ll make the NHL at this time. Right now, he should be considered a long-shot to make the NHL, but if he does, he could be a very serviceable depth center with the ability to chip in a few points. It’s worth mentioning that his father, Lane, was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the third round of the 1985 draft, but never played outside of college in North America.
Risk – 5/5, Reward – 2/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6.5/10, Defence – 5/10
MacDonald was drafted in the second round of the 2020 QMJHL American Draft and was a fourth-round pick of the United States Hockey League’s (USHL) Des Moines Buccaneers in 2021. However, he chose to forego both of these to sign with the BCHL for one season before joining Harvard.
Ben MacDonald Statistics
- The son of a college legend, Ben MacDonald is carving his own path – New England Hockey Journal
- Ben MacDonald commits to the West Kelowna Warriors next season – Kelowna Now
An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.