By Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent
EDMONTON — Ryan McLeod picked a good season to break out offensively with Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League.
After he had 70 points (26 goals, 44 assists) in 68 games, McLeod was selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the second round (No. 40) in the 2018 NHL Draft. In 2016-17, he had 42 points (nine goals, 33 assists) in 68 games.
“I think it was just confidence,” McLeod said. “I started playing with a lot more confidence in my third year and I think it really paid off for me. I think I developed a lot over the past year.”
An excellent skater, the 18-year-old center is expected to return to Mississauga this season and take on an even bigger offensive role. Last season, he finished third on the team in scoring behind defenseman Nicolas Hague (78 points) and forward Owen Tippett (75 points).
“He’s got good skills, he really moves the puck he can see the ice really well,” Oilers director of player personnel Bob Green said. “He’s got a good shot, he probably doesn’t use his shot as much as his coaches would like, but he’s got a good release and a good shot, and he does a good job on the penalty kill and can play the power play. He’s got a well-rounded game.”
McLeod, who was projected to be a late first or early second-round selection, said he felt fortunate to be chosen by the Oilers with their second pick.
“Being your draft year, you were always a little nervous every game, you don’t really know who is watching you or who is writing stuff down, so it makes it kind of tough to play sometimes,” McLeod said. “But it’s really fun to know now that I’m now part of a great organization and franchise, and I’m really happy to be here.”
The Oilers hope when McLeod makes the NHL he can fill a top-six role either at center or left wing. He played both positions with Mississauga last season.
“He played a lot of wing this year,” Green said. “He started a lot on the wing and when they would get in a pinch they would move him up to play (center) with [his brother Michael McLeod’s] line and try to get some scoring going. He’s used to using his speed to beat guys and generally that’s on the outside. He’s got to learn to penetrate the middle ice a little bit better and that would be the biggest thing for him.”
When McLeod takes the ice at Oilers training camp in September, his goal will be to continue his development and make a good impression on the team, regardless of whether he makes the opening night roster.
“I just want to work on my scoring,” McLeod said. “Coming into last year, I put more pucks on net than I ever have before. I just want to score more and be tougher to play against, those are the biggest things for me.”