McDonald Loving It

Colin McDonald has done a lot of things well this season: porn moustache, goal scoring, working hard at EVs, PK and PP. There is a "window of opportunity" for an Oiler forward currently being occupied by Gilbert Brule. Technically called "3rd line right-winger", this player needs to bring a physical style, some goal scoring and perhaps most importantly supply the coach with a reliable checker. Is Colin McDonald a candidate? Or is he too old? 

Fernando Pisani played for my town team (St. Albert Saints) many moons ago. The Oilers drafted Pisani after a stellar AJHL season with the Saints and followed his progress at Providence (NCAA). Shortly after playing his first college game, Pisani turned 20 years old. In four seasons with Providence he delivered consistent offense and gained the reputation for being a solid 2-way winger.

Shortly after making his pro debut in 2000 fall, Fernando turned 24. His first AHL season was solid if unspectacular (52gp, 12-13-25, good for 8th among Bulldog forwards that season) but in his second season in the minors Pisani began to impact the offensive game. A 60-point season in the AHL followed; in 02-03,

Pisani laid waste to the AHL (he was 26 years old now) and posted 17-15-32 numbers in 41 games before being called up to the Oilers on January 8, 2003. The Pisani callup was made necessary when Mike Comrie fractured his right thumb.

Oiler fans were hoping Jani Rita would grab the available job (Daniel Cleary was faltering, much like Brule and Cogliano are currently) but it was Pisani who won the day. That summer, Cleary was moved along and the legend that was Fernando in Edmonton took flight.

Colin McDonald played his junior hockey in New England and had a better draft pedigree than Pisani. He was selected high in the very good 2003 Entry Draft (51st overall) and ahead of notables like Patrick O’Sullivan and David Backes, among others.

The Oilers followed his progress through 4 seasons at Providence (NCAA). Shortly before playing his first college game, McDonald turned 19 years old. In four seasons with Providence he delivered below average offense while gaining the reputation of being a solid checker.

Shortly before making his pro debut in 2007, McDonald turned 23. His first AHL season showed he was still a little shy offensively (73gp, 12-11-23 ranked him 7th among Falcon forwards that season). McDonald didn’t enjoy the boost in offense that Pisani managed in year two of pro hockey; in fact, the young man ran in place in each of the following seasons.

McDonald is about the same age now as Fernando Pisani was when he got his call to the show. I don’t think he is as good offensively as Fernando was but he does have some nice things going for him this season. For the first time since being drafted, Colin McDonald is going to post a strong offensive boxcar.

Here are his current stats:

  • 32gp, 15-4-19, Even

He’s been in three fights, the coaching staff is saying nice things about him. Earlier this week, I wrote on my blog Colin McDonald is not technically Edmonton Oiler property at this time. He owns an AHL contract and the Oklahoma City Barons are paying him. However, NHL teams often "purchase" such contracts and I believe the Edmonton Oilers will do just that at some point in 2011.

The things that need to happen (injury on RW, ineffective play by multiple players above him on the depth chart, the lack of a "player with a wide range of skills" in the system at the pro level) are all part of the current script at the big league level. All Colin McDonald needs is an inspired thought from management and perhaps something like a 4-goal game to get his name above the event horizon.

McDonald has been playing on a line with AHL veterans Brad Moran and Alex Giroux for much of the season. Coach Todd Nelson: “Those other guys have certainly had a lot to do with it. But that’s not taking anything away from Colin. He’s getting down there and making things happen for us right now.”

McDonald has size, some grit and is on pace for a 25+ goal season in the AHL. He might get a real shot at the NHL if he continues to play well while others above him on the depth chart falter. The script is playing out perfectly.

  • Kemtek

    I hear that Brule’s sick again. Wasn’t he sick for a good part of last year as well? This is one area in which he is consistent. His position on the roster is up for grabs. Look forward to seeing who can grab the brass ring.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Frag some arse LT!

    Oilersnation has been in a slump for a week now…. Tazer someone. It’s been too long since someone wrote a Pros and Cons to buying out Shawn Horcoff article.

  • Adam D

    Good grief – LT writes an informative, insightful article without dozens of gratuitous pics and you ADD-addled Mountain Dew swillers yell “BOOOOOOOORRRRRRRIIIIING”?

    Keep ’em coming, LT. Those of us with taste and sophistication will keep reading.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    I’m going to get this baby back on track. We’ll burn some crosses after.

    Let’s lay this out; O’Marra is on the team now; Willis is pitching for Reddox; and LT believes McDonald has a future (2011) with the big club.

    Oh and the absolutely uninspiring Colin Fraser is getting 10 minutes a night right now.

    So many options, so little time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously though, McDonald>O’Marra>>>>>Fraser… and the red headed kid is just different, but I like him. If I’m Tambellini, and I regularly am, McDonald and Reddox are on this team next year at the expense of the obscene amount of useless pluggers sucking the bottom of the Oil tank right now. I’d do it this year if I could.

    Anyway, as promised… heard 23 is going to take his next shootout attempt blindfolded while using Mikko Koivu’s stick and Peckman wants to change his number to 44, says he’s confident he can break the curse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Suck on those multi-orgasmic facts, Nation!

  • O.C.

    Seriously, is Giroux a career AHL first liner?

    Other than Jones and maybe Linus, it seems there are a plethora of “almost have what it take options” who do nothing more than prove they almost have what it takes.

  • J-Dogg

    “heard 23 is going to take his next shootout attempt blindfolded while using Mikko Koivu’s stick”

    Throw in some flaming arrows, and a dancing bear and I’m on board. Although, I guess he has to leave himself somewhere to go.

    Wait!! Got it, replace Koivu’s stick with a chainsaw after that.

  • Stone Hands McOsta

    LT, I like the fact that you brought up Fernando and his rise with the Saints…it brought back some memories for me as a young buck going to Akinsdale Arena and seeing some nice talent come up through (also) my home town team. Too bad St.Albert couldn’t get their poop in a group and build them a new arena in time before they took off for Spruce.

    Ever since the Saints left and the Traders came to town and changed to the Steel, I have completely lost touch with the AJHL. For some reason, I just can’t see the same traditionally exciting players that came from the Saints like Pisani, Comrie, Lundmark or Rene Bourque being developed out of the St.Albert Steel organization.

  • Ender

    I thought McDonald looked very good for the Oilers in preseason play this year. He was dominent in his game versus Vancouver. While I don’t know if he’ll ever catch the break he needs at this stage in his career (when Reddox is ahead of you on the depth chart, you know you have problems) I still wish him the best and hope he makes it. To be Pisani 2.0 is a fine aspiration for him.

    @ stevezie

    I wondered how many people would pick up on Quicksilver’s reference. You can really mark the elderly with something like that.

  • To me it doesn’t matter how old McDonald is nearly as much as how good he is. It seems we treat all our AHL guys as NHL players-in-waiting, when the sad reality is that with certain exceptions, they’re just AHL players period. Let’s face it. Every athlete has his ceiling and not many will ever succeed at the highest level.

    If we were really intent on winning, how many AHL-level talent athletes would we really have on this team (I’m looking at you JFJ, Fraser, SMac. O’Marra…)? It seems the team is hyping the Barons and their supposed talent because it’s so much easier to ice a substandard team if people believe you’re testing out high-level prospects from the farm.

    I’ve seen us play games games where the other teams’ call-ups were just short of sensational, or at the very least positive contributors. Other than Omark, that hasn’t been the case here. And no other team I’ve watched us play iced more than one or two call-ups at the most, and even then only as the result of an emergency. Here, its “throw ’em all in – YEE HAW!!”.

    [EDIT] @ Bicepus Maximus (most excellent screen name BTW) – correction applied. I can’t access the comments right now – site seems to be crapping out.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      Either you have a person grudge against Foster (which by the way is okay – I have many of those) or you meant to say Fraser (which is also okay – I would pick him as my goat, but unfortunately his play is so useless, he can’t make a large enough negative impact).

  • Diamond

    There is always a diamond in the rough. You think Storts still has anything but hugging people to death to offer. Give Mcdonald a chance, he needs to be put in a roll he can succeed in. Same goes for Giroux.

  • Bar Qu

    Funny how the last three articles all touch on bringing guys up to fill the OBVIOUS GAPING HOLES in the roster (sorry, apparently a key got stuck).

    I am sure that there is a plan behind not having Macdonald or Reddox come up to help the bottom six options. Toonces is always thinking, ain’t he?