Are the Montreal Canadiens in hot pursuit of Minnesota Wild prospect Jake McBain ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline?
TSN Insider Darren Dreger confirmed the Montreal Canadiens’ interest in Minnesota Wild prospect McBain on Tuesday night during Insider Trading. The soon-to-be unrestricted free agent out of Boston College is in his senior year and is one of the hottest players in the Hockey-East conference, an NCAA division that Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes knows very well. The Canadiens aren’t the only team interested in McBain, as sources have confirmed to Montreal Hockey Now that the Arizona Coyotes and the Boston Bruins also remain in hot pursuit of the coveted prospect.
Why All The Fuss?
McBain is a very interesting prospect, as he’s really taken off in his final year in the NCAA. His progression has been staggering, going from 19 points in 24 games last season to 33 points in 24 games this year, almost doubling his offensive output. The 6’4 208 lbs centre, who represented Team Canada at the most recent Olympics, looks to have significantly increased his stock over the last twelve months and appears to be unwilling to come to terms with the Wild on his entry-level contract.
McBain may not be appealing to mainly look at offensive history, as offensive improvement is expected in an NCAA player’s senior year, but the strides he’s taken this season cannot be ignored. His skating, the most improved aspect of his game, allows him to execute plays at far faster rates, contributing to his spike in scoring. Almost doubling his offensive output in such short order is impressive. He carried that momentum with him as he represented Canada at the Olympics this past February, further showing that he could already hold his own against the best outside of the NHL.
McBain is projected to be a middle-6 center that can play a strong, two-way game, and if the Canadiens could extract him from Minnesota for a 3rd round pick or less, it would be a solid addition for the Canadiens leading up to NHL Trade Deadline. It’s worth noting that the current price tag is rumoured to be a 2nd round pick, but Montreal’s own 3rd round pick will be very early and could pass as similar value to that of a late 2nd round pick.
Jack McBain with a snipe from the top of the circle to give BC the lead. pic.twitter.com/SIIhqKOQSx
— Mr. Tenkrat (@PeterTenkrat) March 10, 2022
Why Not Wait Until August 16?
Being in his senior year, McBain will be able to choose his destination as of August 16 due to a loophole in the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, which allows NCAA players to become unrestricted free agents after completing their four years in university. This was a rule used in the past by the likes of Kevin Hayes, Jimmy Vesey and others, as they refused to sign with the teams that drafted them and ultimately became unrestricted free agents as of August 16 and picked their desired destination.
McBain was the Wild’s third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, but McBain and Minnesota have yet to reach a deal on an entry-level contract, and, if they don’t before the March 21 trade deadline, McBain’s rights will likely be moved not to lose the much-hyped prospect for nothing this summer. That presents an opportunity for some teams and the Wild to try and work out a deal and have McBain sign his entry-level contract and burn the first year immediately upon signing.
The Canadiens are trying to acquire his rights in advance in order to avoid the bidding war and secure his services this season. Another added benefit is to get him familiar with the organization. McBain could then play a few games in the NHL and then get a ton of ice time in Laval as they look to go far in the playoffs this year. McBain fits an organizational need for the Canadiens, who lack big and strong centres of his ilk within the prospect pool.
Jack McBain out here looking like a left handed Ovechkin 💣💣💣 pic.twitter.com/EVIAPCWTT8
— Barstool BC (@BarstoolBC) February 27, 2021