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Top 25 Under 25: Jack McBain bursts in at #16

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The big young forward makes his first appearance on the list and almost squeaks into the top-15.

2019 Beanpot Tournament - Harvard v Boston College Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Slotting into the No. 16 spot of our Top 25 Under 25 ranking is Boston College forward, and Minnesota Wild prospect, Jack McBain.

The 6-foot-4 skater hails from the Toronto, Ont. area, and his father, Andrew McBain, is a former NHL player who spent the bulk of their career with the Winnipeg Jets. McBain, a natural athlete, played many sports growing up, before eventually being drafted by the Barrie Colts in the 2016 OHL Entry Draft.

Unlike his father who played Major Junior, he opted to continue down the Junior A route to keep his college eligibility. McBain go on to earn a scholarship with Boston College a few years later, and has played at Boston College for the last two seasons.

The 20-year-old was picked out of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) and spent his entire junior career with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. He had the opportunity to play for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, but opted to stay close to home instead. The OJHL is a tier-two league, and although he didn’t dominate the league as some people expected, his play improved over the two seasons he played for the Jr. Canadiens.

McBain thrived as a two-way center in the GTHL, and OJHL. He was certainly good enough to play up the OHL, and I remember being surprised that he didn’t decide to play for the Colts. The decision to forgo the OHL after being a first round pick has only happened a handful of other times. Adam Fantilli in 2020, Jack Hughes in 2017, Tyler Weiss in 2016, and fellow Minnesota Wild player, Jordan Greenway, in 2013.

Jack would go on to lead the OJHL in under-18 scoring, and was largely considered to be the top prospect in the OJHL and a top prospect in the CJHL. The OJHL is a great developmental league, but you’re not likely to see top NHL prospects face harder competition leading into their draft year. That, combined with some other factors, impacted Jack McBain falling on draft day.

The Stats

When you look at the stat line for McBain, the numbers don’t immediately jump out at you, like they do for other Wild prospects. For what was once thought to be a first-round talent, some of the inconsistencies in his game arose when he moved to the NCAA.

Earlier in his career, McBain dominated the GTHL as the captain of the U16 Don Mills Flyers, and tied Arizona Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton for second in league scoring with 73 points. Despite being a playmaker, he was still able to tally 25 goals on the season, while his teammate, Sam Rhodes, led the GTHL in goals. Interestingly enough, Sam Rhodes, was also drafted to the Barrie Colts in the 2016 OHL Draft.

I often wonder if they could’ve rekindled their magic on a stacked Barrie Colts the following year in 2017-2018. That team featured Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov and prospect Ryan Suzuki, and fellow Wild prospect, Dimitri Sokolov. Revisionist history, eh?

McBain entered the OJHL the following year, with just under a point-per game for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. To round out the year, he was an OJHL First Team All-Prospect, and helped Canada earn a Silver Medal at the U17 World Hockey Championship.

In the 2017-18 season, McBain had a stellar year with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. He tallied 21 goals, and 37 assists, for a total of 58 points in 48 games. To round out his OJHL career, he was a Boston College commit, and had success at both the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with a point a game. The Wild prospect helped Canada earn a gold medal, and earned the OJHL Top Prospect award. Not bad, eh?

McBain’s production dropped when he joined the Boston College Eagles in the 2018-19 season. This was the best competition he had faced to this point, but the 20-year-old improved in the 2019-20 season, earning 21 points in 34 games.

Boston College was stacked last season, featuring the additions of Alex Newhook, Spencer Knight, and fellow Wild prospect, Matthew Boldy joining the mix. They would go on to be NCAA Hockey East Regular Season Champions.

There are high expectations for Boston College when Hockey East, eventually, gets going again.

Roll the Tape

When I break down McBain’s game, there are a few immediate stand outs. When I first saw him in the GTHL, I expected him to be a minute-munching, shutdown center who would use his big frame to drive play, protect the puck, and be that big net presence on the power play. He was physically so much bigger than the other players on the ice, physically much stronger than anyone else his age.

The truth is, I got all of those things, but I also saw glimpses of a very skilled player who could compliment those prototypical power forward attributes with great vision, and playmaking ability.

McBain is a 200 foot player, who outthinks his opponents at both ends of the ice. At 6-foot-4, McBain has an athletic frame, and great reach. As you might expect, he’s most effective in the corners, and making space in front of the net. Although he is more of a playmaker than a shooter, he has a sneaky good shot, that is both hard, and accurate.

Defensively, McBain uses his long reach to turn pucks over, and interrupt passing lanes. Although he protects the puck well, he needs to continue to work on his first step and skating acceleration to create a larger gap against defenders.

The 20-year-old has struggled with consistency early in his career. The talent is there, but there were definitely nights where I’d watch him and he’d look lost in his own zone, or times that he’d lazily turn the puck over, and wouldn’t look motivated enough to get it back.

I’ve read comments on his skating, and for me, this is something that he’s obviously worked on. His skating stride can be very stiff, but once he gets going, his speed is what you’d hope for from a player that size. I don’t think his skating keeps him from being a meaningful contributor in the NHL — certainly nothing a skating coach can’t fix. McBain has worked with Daniel Bochner, a skills coach SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL, on both his skating, and shot, so there is hope for the future.

The Future

When hockey returns to Boston College and Hockey East, McBain will be entering his third year with the Eagles. Last year he put up 21 points in 34 games as a sophomore, so the expectations are higher going into year three.

The 20-year-old had a steady role in the top six, and played both center and left wing.

McBain isn’t the only Wild prospect suiting up for the BC Eagles. He joins Wild prospects Matthew Boldy, and Marshall Warren. The boys represent a bright future for both Boston College, and the Minnesota Wild.

I project Jack McBain as a third line center — if everything goes smoothly — who could play up, and down the line-up. I saw legendary Eagles coach, Jerry York, project McBain as a Brian Boyle-type player and it somewhat fits. The Boston College connection is obvious, but I completely agree with that analysis. Every team could use a Brian Boyle type player.

He’ll need some time in Iowa to refine his game, but I see Jack McBain as a meaningful contributor for the Minnesota Wild, if developed correctly.