When looking at the Avalanche cupboard, it's no secret that the defense is a weakness. While it's always key to select the best player available, the Avs may very well be presented with a defenseman as BPA. The guy who is likely to be available and fits that bill is Roland McKeown.
Roland McKeown, CAN
Hashtag/Nickname: #MrPuckRusher, #Rolly
Team: #20, Kingston, OHL
Weight: 197 lb.
Born: Listowel, ON, Jan. 20, 1996
Composite #25, ISS #23, FC #28, CSS-NA #27, THN #26
|2010-11||Toronto Marlboros Bantam AAA||GTBHL||-||-||-||-||-|
|Toronto Marlboros Minor Mdgt AAA||GTMMHL||-||-||-||-||-|
|2011-12||Toronto Marlboros Minor Mdgt AAA||GTMMHL||28||10||25||35||30|
|Canada Ontario U17||WHC-17||5||0||3||3||6|
|2010-11||Toronto Marlboros Minor Mdgt AAA||OHL Cup||7||0||2||2||2|
|2011-12||Toronto Marlboros Minor Mdgt AAA||OHL Cup||7||3||7||10||0|
|2013-14||Canada U18||Hlinka Memorial||5||0||1||1||6||0|
What the Scouts Say
Offensively, McKeown shows confidence and poise with the puck on his stick, and is really developing into a solid two-way defenceman. His offensive game is keyed by smart decision making and excellent passing skills. His shot isn’t the hardest of the defenders in the draft, but it is very good. What really makes it an effective weapon though is the fact that McKeown finds the openings to get it through to the net, and keeps it low and accurate, leading to second chance opportunities for teammates. He does look more like a powerplay quarterback type who runs the play with his smart offense than the big bomber from the point though. His agility and edgework allow him to walk the line and open up shooting and passing lanes.
Defensively, McKeown’s mobility keeps him in position to make plays, and a good active stick help him to cut down passing and shooting lanes. He is a smart defenceman who anticipates the play well. McKeown works hard in the corners, and is willing to battle in front of the net, but he could add more muscle to his frame, and play a more physical game as he’s not really a big hitter.
Stylistically I would compare McKeown to Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues with his effortless skating and solid two-way game. This is not a talent comparison though, just a style one. In terms of talent he could develop into a top 4 defenceman capable of playing all situations and being a weapon on the powerplay.
Roland McKeown is a 6’1", 195 lbs defenseman. McKeown is smooth skater with above-average speed and great acceleration and agility. He is an excellent backward skater too with god pivots. He plays a two-way type of game and is really solid defensively already at only 17 years old. He has a great hockey IQ and knows when to support the offense. In 4-on-4 situation he was a threat and was all over the ice. He was rushing the puck a lot displaying good hands to deke a couple of opponent and gain the offensive zone easily. Like Bennett, his head is always moving, he aware of where everyone are on the ice. McKeown is really calm and pose, never panics, does the simple plays. He also has a good hard first pass on breakouts. I haven’t notice him being physical and it is something that I would like to see more from him. Although his lack of physicality in this game, he seemed to be good at angling opponents with a good stick and poking the puck away from them. He was playing in every situation, on the PP, on the PK and during 4-on-4 situations. He was willing to sacrifice the body to either block a shot in his zone or to prevent the 67’s to clear their defensive zone on Kingston’s powerplays or at 4-on-4. This season he racked up 9 pts (2 goals, 7 assists) in 12 games with a +23 (!!!) rating. McKeown is definitely a Top 15 pick and in my mind he’s a Top 10 pick right now.12 games with a +23 (!!!) rating. McKeown is definitely a Top 15 pick and in my mind he’s a top draft pick.
Draft Projection: 20-30th overall
NHL Comparable(s) – Poor man’s Alex Pietrangelo
Upside – 7.5/10
Strengths – McKeown is a smooth skating defenseman who’s not afraid to jump into the play to create offense. His acceleration is pretty good, and he’s fluid skating backwards as well. McKeown makes a good first pass, and can skate the puck out of trouble when he needs to. He’s confident with the puck, and is good at eluding oncoming players and safely carrying the puck into the offensive zone with possession. McKeown is a good cross-ice passer, and is quite capable of quarterbacking a power play. For the most part he gets his shots through, and there is usually good power behind it. His positioning in the defensive zone is pretty good, and his active stick makes it tough on opposing players to get around him or get their passes/shots through. He’s also strong along the boards, and did a good job of regularly knocking opposing players off the puck showing good strength. McKeown is a guy who played big minutes and was utilized in all aspects of the game.
Weaknesses – McKeown’s needs to improve his decision making with the puck. At times he forces passes that aren’t there in the offensive zone, and he makes some pretty risky plays putting the puck in bad spots or trying to complete low-percentage passes. He’s not a huge defenseman, but he’s not as physical as he could be given his solid frame.
Career Projection – McKeown projects to be a second pairing defenseman who can move the puck, put up some points and run a power play unit.
Why He Works for the Avs
The Avs' biggest need on the back end is players who can move the puck out of the d-zone. McKeown has that ability. With excellent stick work, smooth skating, and a clean outlet pass, he could give the Avs a transition specialist that bolsters the offensive rush that characterizes Colorado's uptempo identity.
Why He Doesn't
He's another righty, a position that has the likes of Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott, all of whom fit a similar mold as McKeown. With Chris Bigras in the pipeline (a lefty who could support a guy like Barrie, allowing him to be more aggressive offensively), McKeown may be redundant.