Who is Jared McIsaac?
Jared McIsaac is a defenseman out of Truro, Nova Scotia who has played his last two seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL (making him a teammate of Nico Hischier in 2016-17). McIsaac is a highly-regarded defensive prospect who figures to be selected on the first night of this year’s NHL Draft. At 6’-1” and 195 pounds, McIsaac is a roughly average-sized defenseman, whose strength to this point has been the well-roundedness of his game. His skills with the puck are well regarded, and he plays capable defense and is reported to have good instincts.
In his two seasons thus far with the Mooseheads, McIsaac has produced capably from the blue line, putting up 32 points in 59 games in his rookie season and following that up with 47 points in 65 games this past year heading into the draft. Those aren’t otherworldly numbers for a defenseman, but they’re solid enough. McIsaac’s strength isn’t necessarily top-end offense, but he definitely has skill as a puck mover and can contribute well on offense. To go along with that offensive game are his reportedly solid defensive instincts and an ability to transition well out of the defensive zone. His career numbers from Elite Prospects are shown below.
Where is McIsaac Ranked?
McIsaac is regarded in most places as a likely first round selection, with many placing him toward the middle of the first round, though a few notable outliers exist with Steve Kournianos and Corey Pronman both putting him in the second-round range in their final rankings. Based on the sampling of rankings, it seems likely that McIsaac will be there when the Devils select at 17. If the Devils were to trade a bit further back in the first round to recoup a pick or two, it’s possible that he could still be available somewhere in the 20s. A sampling of rankings can be found below.
- NHL Central Scouting: NA-13
- Future Considerations: 27
- McKeen’s: 19
- The Draft Analyst: 34
- HockeyProspect.com: 22
- ISS: 21
- TSN — Button: 24 (March 2018)
- The Athletic — Pronman: 51
What Others are Saying About Jared McIsaac
Opinions on McIsaac and how he projects as a prospect do vary a bit, but generally speaking, there is some consensus on what his strengths are as a player. To start, we’ll go to a piece from Steve Kournianos (of the Draft Analyst) at the Sporting News where he did a full rundown of his top two rounds with brief descriptions for each player. His bit on McIsaac
McIsaac is a physical two-way defenseman with occasional flashes of brilliance that make you think he’s holding back far too often. He is a very good all-around rearguard who may not develop into a big point producer but can consistently provide clean puck management.
I think this does a decent job of capturing what seems to be the consensus on McIsaac, though Kournianos seems a bit lower on him than some others. Essentially, McIsaac is a very good player at both ends of the ice, but the moments when he really looks like an elite talent are only sporadic. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a legitimate top-pairing guy in the NHL though.
To wit, we go next to an in-depth profile by Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports, where Kerr breaks down each area of McIsaac’s game nicely and tries to determine how he projects in the NHL. Some bits from his profile, which is worth a read in full, are here:
McIsaac is an outstanding skater. He has very good mobility, with top-notch speed and acceleration in both directions. This allows him to lead the rush out of his own end, or to make pinches at the blue line and still recover defensively.
He combines excellent puck handling skill with his good skating and can carry the puck end-to-end to create a scoring chance. He also has the vision and skill to make a strong first pass and start the transition game that way.
McIsaac has a strong shot in addition to the ability to quarterback the power play. He has a good wrist shot with a quick release. His slap shot may not be an absolute bomb, but it is still above average.
McIsaac’s strong skating ability helps him to be an excellent two-way defender. He is very difficult to beat one-on-one. McIsaac can also play a physical game in the corners and in front of the net. However, in order to continue to play this type of game at the next level, McIsaac must get stronger.
Certainly a lot to like in there and the linked post expands on everything a bit more. Being able to shift the flow of play from the defensive end back to the offensive zone is obviously among the most important skills for a defenseman, and McIsaac has the defensive instincts and the skating and puck skills to move things in the right direction. Kerr says he has the skills to project into a top-four NHL role, which is good and absolutely what you’d be hoping for from a first-rounder.
Next, we go to this bit from Future Considerations from last summer, where they really liked what he was bringing heading into the 2017-18 season.
McIsaac is a smooth-skating, two-way defenseman…he focuses on keeping his end clean first and foremost before adding to the offensive play
pin-point breakout passes he delivers crisply and accurately…he really controls the puck well at high speeds and will skate it end-to-end when he gets room to rush the puck up ice…possesses a real cannon of a shot from the point
he’s a calming, safe, reliable two-way defender that has top-pairing NHL upside. (July 2017)
Future Considerations offered up a lot of pretty substantail praise in that scouting report. Overall, it seems like McIsaac’s stock did slide a bit over the course of the season, though. At Future Considerations, he went from 5th (!) overall in their preliminary ranking from last summer to 27th in their just-released final list. At the Draft Analyst, he experienced a similar slide, falling from 12th on the preseason list down to 34th in Kournianos’ final ranking. This isn’t to say that McIsaac had a bad season by any means, but you do get the feeling that a bit more was expected of him in 2017-18. Whether that means he could be a great value in the mid-to-late first or if his stock dropped for good reason will remain to be seen.
A Little Video
McIsaac, being a pretty highly touted prospect, has plenty of highlights out there that have been compiled for him. A sampling of them, in which some of both his high level offensive and defensive skills are on display, are below. First from SEER Video, which always has nice highlight packages with somewhat distracting music, is a mix of defensive and offensive highlights. It’s tough to gauge defensive ability in a highlights video, but he is clearly very sound on his skates and is capable of laying some effective checks to break up plays.
Next is another solid highlights package from Hockey Prospects Center. There are some really nifty plays in here and he does seem to have a quality shot. The play starting around 2:15 is a particularly fun one.
An Opinion of Sorts
Jared McIsaac seems like the type of prospect that the Devils could certainly use in their system. He is a capable puck-mover and a player who can play strong defense in his own end. Reading the scouting reports and profiles on him, he doesn’t seem to have any obvious weak points in his game and he does almost everything well. The two-way label can be a double-edged sword when talking about forward prospects but that is a bit less of a concern on defense. Plus, it doesn’t seem that McIsaac is necessarily lacking in skill, either. He can pass, shoot, and handle the puck quite well and can play quality defense to go along with it.
I think the one thing that prevents me from really liking McIsaac for the Devils at the 17th overall spot is that there are a lot of talented defenseman prospects in this draft and it seems like at least a few may have passed McIsaac over the course of this season. McIsaac does a lot of things well, but you don’t see profiles that are necessarily blown away by him heading into this draft. He feels like a slight reach at 17th, though I could live with the Devils going in his direction. The fact that he was so highly touted coming into this season only to slide back is an interesting factor. Is he perhaps underrated due to a slightly down year production wise? Or is he overrated because his starting point in the rankings might have been a bit too high? I might lean a shade toward the former, but it’s always difficult to say in situations like this. I think if the Devils feel he is their guy, though, it might be worth trying to trade back a little bit to recoup one of their second/third rounders and try and grab him in the early to mid 20s. If they do stay put, though, it seems like they could do worse than selecting McIsaac.
After reading about Jared McIsaac, what are your thoughts on him as a prospect? Do you think he is worth a look at 17th overall? Do you like his reputation as a well-rounded puck-mover or are you looking for more top-end abilities? Are there other defensemen that you like better from this class that you think will be available by the time the Devils are on the clock? Comment with your thoughts below and thanks for reading.