On Sunday (April 20) the Edmonton Oilers recalled top prospect Ryan McLeod to their taxi squad. The 21-year-old-centre has 14 goals and 14 assists in 28 games this season with the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors.
This is the first National Hockey League call-up for McLeod, who was drafted with the ninth selection of the second round, 40th overall, by the Oilers in 2018 while playing major junior for his hometown Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League.
After clearing quarantine, McLeod could be moved to Edmonton’s active roster and make his NHL debut as soon as next week. In the meantime, here are five things to know about the promising young forward.
He Grew Up an Oilers Fan
During his appearance on Icebreakers with the Condors, a segment from 23ABC television in Bakersfield, McLeod reveals his favorite team while growing up was indeed the Oilers, because of Ryan Smyth being his favorite player. Smyth, one of the most beloved players in franchise history, played left wing for the Oilers from 1994 to 2007 and then again from 2011 t0 2014.
Being a product of the GTA, McLeod admitted he also had to cheer for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He’s Part of a Hockey Family
McLeod is the youngest of three siblings who have made it to the pro ranks of hockey; 23-year-old Michael McLeod is currently a center with the New Jersey Devils, while 24-year-old defenceman Matt McLeod spent the 2019-20 season with the Brampton Beast before the ECHL franchise ceased operations this February.
Ryan and Michael were teammates on the Steelheads for three seasons, from 2015-16 to 2017-18, helping Mississauga reach the OHL championship series in 2017. Michael was drafted 12th overall by the Devils in 2016 and played his first NHL game in 2018-19.
He Was a Draft Day Steal
McCleod entered the 2018 NHL Draft ranked 16th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, 22nd on TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s final draft rankings, and 29th on Craig’s List by Craig Button. That the Mississauga center was somehow still available when the Oilers picked at No. 40 could be attributed to a premium on defensemen, with that position accounting for eight of the final 11 picks of the first round.
At the time of McLeod’s recall, 26 of the 39 players chosen before him had suited up for at least one game in the NHL, while just five of the 31 second-round selections had appeared in an NHL game.
He’s Worn the Maple Leaf
McLeod has twice competed internationally, first helping Canada White win gold at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C., then suiting up for Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia.
On both occasions, McLeod’s teammates included current Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard, who Edmonton drafted 10th overall in 2018, 30 picks ahead of McLeod.
He Had a Stint Overseas
With the opening of this hockey season in North America delayed, McLeod was loaned last September by the Oilers to EV Zug of the Swiss National League. He played 15 games in Switzerland, recording four goals and seven assists – not a bad deal for Zug, which had to pay only his food and accommodation.
Former Oilers that have previously played for Zug include Linus Omark, who Edmonton loaned at the start of the 2012-13 season when NHL teams locked out players over a labor dispute.
McLeod is the first player the Oilers have recalled from Bakersfield since the current AHL season began in early February. He would be the second rookie to make his NHL debut for Edmonton in 2021, following Bakersfield’s current No. 1 goaltender Stuart Skinner, who got the start for the Oilers in an 8-5 win over the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 31.
In Dave Tippett’s media availability on Monday (April 19) prior to Edmonton’s 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, the Oilers coach said of McLeod “we’d like to get him some games here down the stretch to see where he’s at”, and that was before bottom-six stalwart Jujhar Khaira was injured during the game; Khaira is out indefinitely, leaving a hole in the lineup at center.
Beginning April 26, the Oilers play a stretch of 11 games in 20 days to close the regular season, providing plenty of opportunity for McLeod to see some action.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.