For the second time in two weeks, another top Edmonton Oilers prospect is headed to the Bakersfield Condors.
Center Ryan McLeod, the 40th overall pick of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, is headed to Bakersfield as his junior team, the Saginaw (Mich.) Spirit have been eliminated from the playoffs.
McLeod, 19, is expected to be on the ice Thursday for his first American Hockey League practice.
Condors coach Jay Woodcroft was noncommittal when asked if McLeod would be in the lineup on Friday when the Condors host San Diego in the first game of the Calder Cup Pacific Divisions Finals.
“Looking forward to seeing the whites of Ryan’s eyes, for sure when he does arrive,” Woodcroft said.
That was pretty much the same thing Woodcroft said before defenseman Evan Bouchard, the 10th overall pick in 2018, joined the Condors right before the opening round series of Colorado.
Bouchard did not join the Condors in time to practice before the team played the first two games in Colorado and watched those from the stands. But he was in for the next two games made an immediate impact with four points (two goals, two assists) in limited minutes.
With Bouchard in the lineup, the Condors utilized him as an extra D-man, going with 11 forwards and seven defenseman instead of the usual 12 and six format.
But All Star rookie center Cooper Marody was knocked out of last Saturday night’s series-clinching game against Colorado in the first period, has not skated this week, and is listed as “day-to-day.”
McLeod, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, put up 62 points (19 goals, 43 assists) in a split season with Mississauga (Ontario) and Saginaw. He had 17 points (5g, 17a) in 12 playoff games.
Woodcroft did say McLeod would be welcomed to Bakersfield, as all of those before him have been.
“I think what’s been a real strong part of our team has been the ability to welcome in new players, regardless of when that’s been,” Woodcroft said. “We’ve had guys sent down during the season, guys coming down from Edmonton and what not. We have such a strong group here so the ability to welcome a new player into that environment is going to be fun. We have strong leadership that makes it an easy transition.”
OK. But is he going to play?
“I think one of the strongest part about our year has been our belief that development and winning go hand in hand,” Woodcroft continued. “They’re not mutually exclusive. It’s something we’ve instilled right from the bat.
“When you get new players coming into that environment, their job is to augment what is already going on. As you can see we’ve been able to do that throughout the season. Looking forward to seeing the whites of Ryan’s eyes.”