2016-17 Team: Chicago Steel (#21)
Date of Birth: February 14, 2000
Place of Birth: Grand Rapids, Minnesota
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 161 lbs.
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 24th (among NA Skaters)
- Future Considerations: 92nd
- Hockey Prospect: 88th
- Bob McKenzie: 51st
- Craig Button: 41st
He’s small and he’s skilled, and while the biggest knock against him might be his size, Blake McLaughlin doesn’t shy away from playing as physical as possible for a player of his stature. Still, teams can’t ignore what he did for the USHL’s Chicago Steel in 2017-18.
After just 11 games for the Steel in 2016-17 where he had two assists, McLaughlin came back and tallied 23 goals and 52 points in 54 games for the team in 2017-18. He added another seven points in seven playoff games to close out the year.
Now, a University of Minnesota commit, McLaughlin is projected to go somewhere between the second and third round in the upcoming NHL Draft. He has the vision and skill set to match some of the best playmakers in the draft class, but has been known to suffer from inconsistent play at times.
While he can play on both sides of the puck, the inconsistency might be one of the biggest red flags for teams looking at the 18-year-old. Regardless, expect him to go in the early rounds of the draft and it’ll depend on his organizational development for how quickly he can make the jump to the NHL level.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Blake McLaughlin – NHL Draft Projection
He’s one of those players you’ll find ranked all over the board depending on who you talk to. Some have him as a mid-second-round pick while others are seeing him as more of a late-third-round pick. My guess is he’s going somewhere in between – likely later in the second round when teams realize just what they will get with the small forward.
“He displays mature playmaking skills however, with a penchant for making deft passes that set up teammates well. He’s extremely elusive making him particularly dangerous on special teams, having nailed two shorthanded goals this year as well as five on the power play. And he’s shown some physical chops on defense, utilizing his quickness and somewhat surprising strength to effectively slow opponents.” – Kevin Wickersham/Dobber Prospects
“McLaughlin is one of the draft’s best playmaking wingers and was carrying Chicago’s offence in the second half.” – Steve Kournianos/Sporting News
- Skating and acceleration
- Shot and release
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Consistent level of play
- Size and strength
He’s small and still has some growing to do, but don’t underestimate the abilities of McLaughlin. If he can deliver consistently with his effort and level of play, he could slot it as a top six forward down the road. Worst case scenario is he finds his way into an NHL team’s top nine.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10 Defence – 6.5/10
While there’s not much to chalk up on his resume yet, McLaughlin can already call himself a champion. As a member of the 2016-17 Chicago Steel, he played 11 regular season games and one playoff game while helping the Steel win the USHL’s Clark Cup.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.