This year, the Chicago Blackhawks own the 11th overall selection in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft. We started our breakdowns of potential draft targets for the Blackhawks earlier this week. But the Hawks will have plenty of options when they’re on the clock.
Thus far we have discussed forwards Matthew Coronado and Chaz Lucius. Let’s now dig deep on Mason McTavish.
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Ranked #11 by TSN/McKenzie
Ranked #2 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #16 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #5 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #14 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #9 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #15 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #21 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #17 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #29 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #9 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #13 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #17 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
From Corey Pronman (The Athletic)
#9 overall prospect
Puck Skills: Average
Hockey Sense: Average
“McTavish was good in Switzerland’s second-tier pro league, with the OHL season canceled, and great at the U18 worlds for Canada. McTavish has always shown he can score — and in numbers. He can attack defenses in numerous ways in the offensive zone with his NHL-caliber skill, vision and shot. He is a creative player who tries to make things happen. He has the shot to score from range versus pros and is very good at creating around the net. He works hard enough to win a lot of puck battles. The main flaw in McTavish’s skill set is his skating, as he will be OK in the NHL in that regard but will struggle to create separation. In a sentence, McTavish projects as a strong top-six forward in the NHL, a second-line center or a low-end first-line wing.”
From Chris Peters’ Hockey Sense
#7 overall prospect
“One of the biggest risers of the top-tier prospects in the class, McTavish stepped out and made his presence known at the World U18 Championship. He has toughness, grit and some general nastiness to his game, but then he’s got all of this talent as well. His vision is high end in this class and he can make so many plays under duress. McTavish protects the puck well and can extend plays with both strength and skill. He has good defensive sense and provides a good effort as a two-way player. McTavish, however, is not a particularly strong skater relative to other top players. He can make up with that with his strength and hockey sense, though. Versatility is such a key in today’s game and I think McTavish has proven time-and-time again he’s got that. Whether it was against pros in Switzerland, his peers in the World U18s or last season in the OHL, McTavish brings a lot of attractive traits that have allowed him to be an especially productive player.”
McTavish has a good first step and accelerates quickly. This helps him to get to loose pucks as well as quickly change speeds to elude a defender. However, his skating stride is still a little short and this limits his top-end speed. McTavish will never be confused for a speedster but could improve his speed with a bit of work on his technique. He has a strong lower body. This allows McTavish to maintain good balance and be strong on the puck. He can fight through checks and get to the front of the net. He is also good along the boards. McTavish has good edgework and lateral agility. His quick lateral movements and changes in direction allow him to avoid defenders, both in the neutral zone and on the cycle.
McTavish is a pure goal scorer. He has an outstanding wrist shot. It is very accurate and has very good power. His quick hands allow him to vary his release and fool goaltenders. McTavish also has a very good one-timer, getting himself open on the power play and firing it on the net. Willing to play a gritty game, McTavish gets to the front of the net, causing havoc with screens. He can also score goals in tight, using his backhand to get the puck up and over the goaltender quickly. McTavish has the hand-eye coordination to get deflections, short one-timers, and pounce on rebounds. He is a smart player, always finding open ice without the puck and setting himself up to take a pass and get a scoring chance.
While he is known for his goal-scoring, McTavish can also be a playmaker. He has good vision and can pass the puck through tight spaces or saucer it over sticks and set up a teammate. McTavish controls the puck down low, as he is tough to stop in the cycle game. His puck control and puck protection allow him to maintain possession and wait for teammates to get open. He is also good on the forecheck and in battles along the boards. By forcing the opponent into mistakes, his team is able to regain possession and create offence.
McTavish also does a good job in his own end of the ice. He works hard on the backcheck and supports the defence down low. He combines his size and strength with a quick stick to help defend against the cycle game. McTavish forces attackers to the outside and is not afraid to throw a hit or battle for a loose puck. His stick is quick and he is good at closing down passing lanes. McTavish is also good in the face-off circle. When a turnover is created, McTavish uses his passing skills to start the transition game and get the offence started.
Projection and Comparison
McTavish has the ability to play both centre and wing. With his strong defensive game, and his ability to win faceoffs, he could be a very good two-way centre at the next level. However, he will need continued work on his skating to stay in the middle. However, he should still be an NHLer, even if he has to transition to the wing. McTavish should be back in the OHL next season as he needs a bit more development before he is ready to go to the NHL. It could even be a couple years and some time in the AHL. However, once he makes the league, he should be a reliable forward who can be used in all situations. McTavish’s game is reminiscent of Jeff Carter. However this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.