The next year is important for many 21 year olds around the world. For Jack McBain, the upcoming year might have higher stakes than his Boston College classmates who are starting jobs or finishing up their education. McBain’s performance this winter, his senior season, will be crucial in determining where he slots in the Minnesota Wild organization.
The Toronto, Ont. native and former third-round pick has taken a somewhat unorthodox path so far. McBain elected not to play in the Ontario Hockey League and instead remain in the OJHL for two years to preserve his NCAA eligibility. The Wild liked what they saw in his second year and used the 63rd overall pick in 2018 to take him. So far, this path seems to be working out for him. McBain’s father also played over 600 NHL games and several seasons in the minors.
After spending two seasons in the OJHL, a league where the talent is lower than typical NCAA-feeding leagues like the USHL, it was no surprise that McBain had a slow first year at Boston College. For what he lacked in offensive production, he showed a solid work ethic and good upside. His second year was an improvement, but he was plagued with some offensive inconsistency. Last year, McBain saw some of the pieces come together. While not quick, he did appear to have a better first few strides last year. He also racked up points at a much higher pace, with many of them being to fellow Wild prospect Nikita Nesterenko.
This year, McBain will be hoping to improve on his first few strides, as well as show he can score at an elite level. He will have a chance to show off his potential with BC losing three forwards to the NHL, including Matt Boldy to the Wild.
McBain first popped out to scouts while dominating U16 AAA with the Don Mills Flyers. Since then, he has never scored eye popping numbers. Even his second year in the OJHL yielded underwhelming results considering the caliber of the league. Yet, McBain is able to control the game in ways that the stat sheet does not record. He will, however, need to build on his production this year in order to impress the Wild, as they are probably hoping for more than six goals (for the fourth year in a row).
Roll the Tape
McBain is a big kid who still could fill his frame out by a few pounds. He has great vision and distributing ability, as well as an acceptable top speed. His biggest weakness right now is his foot speed, goal scoring, and consistency.
Here he shows some grit to finish a dirty goal.
Twister wrister from Jack McBain who is sporting a world class muzzy under his nose. 3-1 BC pic.twitter.com/1WyBCkWVSl— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) November 28, 2020
Both speed and an accurate shot on display here.
BC GOAL: Jack McBain tips Drew Helleson's shot, and it trickles through the five hole. That's one BU would like Ashton Abel to come up with.— Patrick Donnelly (@PatDonn12) February 6, 2021
1-0, BC, with 7:53 left in the first. #BUvsBC pic.twitter.com/FFbFNpjOzk
Once again showing off a great set of hands.
His senior year will be with a letter on his chest, a testament to his character and ability to be a good teammate.
McBain is a prospect who I hesitate to come to a conclusion on yet, simply because of how much potential I think he has with a few simple fixes. This year’s importance for his career cannot be understated. This is his first time at Boston College where he will be depended on to score frequently. With this pressure and ice time, I could see him putting some pieces together and finishing with somewhere around 40 points, considering the other talent that is still on the team.
McBain’s game is one that will be desired by NHL coaches even without scoring. He is a big and fairly physical player that could add playmaking ability to the bottom six. The fact that he is a leader only makes him more attractive to coaches.
Overall, I think this year will give Wild fans a much clearer picture of where he is going to end up. The biggest question mark for me right now is the scoring ability. If that improves, I think he could be playing big AHL minutes in the next few years and eventually be a middle six center. Without the scoring and some more foot speed, I don’t see him anywhere beyond the bottom six.
With the Wild’s incoming cap nightmare, prospects like McBain know they will have the opportunity to play big NHL minutes quick. Fortunately for Wild fans, but unfortunately for him, there is a very solid core of forwards that he will be fighting for spots with.
Hockey Wilderness 2021 Top 25 Under 25
23) Kyle Masters, D
22) Damien Giroux, C
21) Ivan Lodnia, RW
20) Hunter Jones, G
18) Mason Shaw, C
17) Jack McBain, C