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The Copper & Blue Top 25 Under 25: #9 Ryan McLeod

McLeod looks to make the jump from AHL standout to NHL regular this season as he moves up in this year's T25U25.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan McLeod, a 6'2" 207-lb center from Mississauga, checks in at #9 in this year's Top 25 Under 25.

Rankings

2021 C&B Staff Rank 2021 C&B Reader Rank
2021 C&B Staff Rank 2021 C&B Reader Rank
9 7

Last Year: 12

McLeod's position on this year's list, after playing (and looking OK) in a handful of games for the Oilers down the stretch last season, speaks to the quality of players/prospects above him. We are in the top 10 now, after all. NHL mainstays like Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto and high end, blue chip prospects like Evan Bouchard keep him closer to 10 than 1, but a full NHL season with flashes of the offense he showed at the AHL level last year would go some way to moving him further up in next year's list.

McLeod enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular, OHL career. He was better than a point per game player in both his draft and D+1 seasons, although some argue his D+1 was a bit underwhelming considering his strong preseason showing at Oilers camp before the season began. He did manage to get a taste of professional hockey that year though, dressing for 5 AHL playoff games with the Bakersfield Condors and collecting his first professional points (0-0-3).

Last year, McLeod was one of the glut of Oilers prospects who found work overseas at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, spending time with Zug EV in Switzerland while the AHL figured itself out. In 15 games, he managed a very competent 4-7-11 before returning to North America for the start of the AHL season.

In the AHL, McLeod continued his progression, chipping in 14-14-28 in 28 AHL games as a 21 year old, good enough for fourth on the team and T-1 with Tyler Benson from a points per game perspective.

His success in the AHL meant he was one of the first names on Ken Holland's call-up sheet, and when the Oilers were looking for a different... look... down the stretch last year, he was able to get into his first NHL games. His skating and ability to handle the rock at speed was impressive but he wasn't able to translate his AHL offense to the bigs, only managing a single assist in that span. Still, McLeod showed enough to Dave Tippett during that stretch to dress for all four of Edmonton's playoff games against the Winnipeg Jets. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to impact the scoresheet and eventually saw his opportunities to do so dwindle, along with a few other Oilers, as Tippett shortened his bench in desperation.

This year, McLeod is expected to start with the big club and should be an upgrade over the handful of also-rans Edmonton has trotted out in their bottom half over the past few years. The addition of Derek Ryan likely means McLeod's best shot to stick will be as a 3C, which should provide him a reasonable platform to begin his NHL career assuming Zack Kassian is nowhere near him.

Now, if some of the offseason murmurs from the MSM are true, Kassian might take RW1 which could mean McLeod gets some ice with an absolute stud in Jesse Puljujarvi. If that's the case, I'd expect that line -- and McLeod personally -- to perform quite well.

Either way, McLeod stands a very good chance to be an NHL regular this year, and a decent chance of finding some genuine success in the world's best league on an Oilers team with more F depth than it's had in over a decade.

Oh, and it's his 22nd birthday today. Happy birthday, Ryan!