In anticipation of the Sharks’ 2014 NHL Draft selection, we will be highlighting the top 30 prospects over the next few weeks.
Name: Roland McKeown
Current Team: Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Jersey Number: 20
Weight: 195 lbs.
Hometown: Listowel, Ontario, Canada
The top defenseman in the 2012 OHL Priority Draft class, Roland McKeown has been a big name for quite some time. The Frontenacs selected McKeown second overall behind teenage phenom Connor McDavid that year, and he has been a stable force on Kingston’s blueline ever since.
In his rookie season, McKeown scored 29 points (7G, 22A) and was a team-worst minus-24 in 61GP. So far in the 2013-2014 season, he has improved his statistics significantly, scoring 4G and 16A for 20 points through 32GP; he is also a plus-21 thus far.
McKeown is a strong, do-it-all defensemen whose biggest asset is his ability to think the game and know his position. He makes strong, simple plays, has a good shot and distributes the puck effectively.
McKeown has had a very decorated hockey career to date. He was a team captain of the Toronto Marlboros minor midget team in the 2011-2012 season. In his rookie year in the OHL, he earned himself a spot on the OHL First All-Rookie Team. He also tallied an assist when he won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.
The element where I’ve improved would be strength. You could say I’m better defensively but I think that comes back to the strength that I’ve added. I’m able to get on the forwards a lot more and break up the ice quicker, because I’m stronger.
In addition to exceptional defensive abilities, the young blueliner is also considered a powerplay quarterback with plenty of offensive skills. Such a combination of offense and defense is what makes McKeown so successful at every level of hockey he has played thus far. He is aware of the draft approaching quickly and knows that he is likely to be selected somewhere in the top half of the first round, however he has taken a more relaxed approach toward handling the pressure:
You’ve got to have fun with it and enjoy the experience, you only go through it once in your life.
– Roland McKeown