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.