While the rest of the league was busy with the flurry of waiver activity, the New Jersey Devils have made their own interesting add. Team beat reporter Amanda Stein tweets that the Devils have recalled top prospect Michael McLeod from the minor leagues, and will join the team in Washington today. A roster spot was opened when Jean-Sebastien Dea was reclaimed by the Pittsburgh Penguins, to McLeod’s benefit. The team has also lost young forward Joey Anderson, who Stein reports has a broken ankle and underwent surgery this week.
It’s hard to know what exactly to expect from McLeod at the NHL level, given the discrepancy between his draft pedigree and performance since selection. The blazing fast two-way center was picked 12th overall by New Jersey in 2016, but failed to really take a huge step forward offensively in either of his following two junior seasons. He was a big part of the Mississauga Steelheads team of course, but there wasn’t that dominating presence that most top picks have after their draft. In the AHL it has been much of the same story in his short career. Promising, solid two-way play, but a lack of real dynamic offense. McLeod has three goals and 10 points in 21 games this season for the Binghamton Devils.
There may be a case to argue for McLeod actually being better suited to the NHL game. His skating ability should certainly allow him to keep up with the advanced pace at the higher level, and his responsible defensive skills should make him versatile enough to stay a lineup even if he isn’t producing. It’s that offensive upside that will really determine where McLeod lands on the New Jersey long-term depth chart though, especially with another defensively-minded option in Pavel Zacha having trouble registering points.