Forgive Prince Albert Raiders forward Mark McNeill if he hasn’t got caught up in all the hype surrounding the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
He’s too busy enjoying it.
Unlike many prospects, the six-foot-one, 205-pound centre hasn’t been kept up late at night worrying about his draft status. In fact, he’s having fun with it. `
“It’s something you really get up for, with a lot of scouts in the stands,” McNeill said. “You like to show yourself.”
That’s just what the Edmonton, AB. native accomplished in Prince Albert this season.
Though he wasn’t able to help guide the Raiders out of the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs, McNeill exceeded everyone’s expectations by finishing with 32 goals and 81 points in 70 games. Not too shabby for a player who went into the season hoping to hit the 60-point plateau.
A potential first round pick in September, McNeill’s play has made him a virtual lock to hear his name called in the upper half of the first round in Minnesota.
It’s already earned him a couple of special invites this season.
In January, McNeill was invited as one of 40 draft eligible prospects to the Canadian Hockey League’s 2011 Top Prospects Game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. While his Team Cherry was drubbed 7-1 by Team Orr, the experience was just another that McNeill has savored from his draft year.
“It was definitely a circus but it was a hell of an experience,” McNeill said. “Getting the opportunity to play with the top prospects from all three CHL leagues across Canada and even having Don Cherry as a coach and in the dressing room was a great experience.”
It wasn’t his only experience.
McNeill represented Canada at the World Under-18 Championship in Germany in April.
Though Canada’s fourth place outcome wasn’t as favourable as Future Considerations’ 12th ranked prospect would have liked, McNeill finished with a respectable six assists in seven games.
Still, it wont be a performance McNeill is satisfied with. Regardless of situation, the former Mac’s Midget Tournament MVP is always striving to deliver something extra.
“I always expect more out of myself,” he said earlier in the year.
It’s what he’s delivered all season long. After starting out ranked 30th, the self-described two-way power forward hasn’t been below 15th in 2011.
And that’s something McNeill can have fun with.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!