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Who Do We Have With MacKenzie Entwistle?

Who Do We Have With MacKenzie Entwistle?

MacKenzie Entwistle is the type of hockey player that every coach wants on their team. He possesses a desirable combination of two-way ability along with his outgoing personality that makes him an asset in the dressing room. Entwistle has talent, technically stellar defensive game, and a high degree of character; this young man has the toolkit to enjoy a very long professional career. His presence on the Bulldogs roster in his sophomore season was a rollercoaster, with several peaks and valleys. His draft season was one that indicates he has room to grow, but that he is likely to capitalize on his opportunities to get him to the next level.

  • NHL Central Scouting:
    • Midterm – #35
    • Final – #44
  • Future Considerations: #36
  • Bob McKenzie – TSN:
    • Midterm – #53
    • Final – #62
  • Craig Button – TSN: #74
  • ISS Hockey: #44
  • McKeen’s Hockey: #50
  • Ryan Kennedy – The Hockey News: #41
  • DraftAnalyst.com: #63

Entwistle’s season splits tell two very different stories that typically would give scouts pause. Bulldogs RW Matt Luff (LAK) was expected to be drafted in the 2015 draft, but he was overlooked thanks to a drop in offensive production in the second half of his draft year. Entwistle had a strong first half of the season, taking his 0.23 point per game average from his rookie campaign to a 0.58 average in the first half. Entwistle’s second half of the season will keep him outside of the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft, but he missed a few weeks battling mononucleosis, so scouting teams will likely forgive his dip in offensive production.

Following the trade of veteran centre Adam Laishram to the Windsor Spitfires, Entwistle became one of Coach John Gruden’s most trusted defensive forwards, which resulted in a shift from the wing to centre, including key defensive zone faceoffs. This focus on defensive responsibility also contributed to the more limited offensive production.

The 2017/18 season will likely feature Entwistle shifting between the wing on offensive units, and centre on more defensive units, along with being a leader on the penalty kill. Given the anticipated increase in ice time next season, Entwistle could net approximately 55-60 points. This could be even higher if he wins a first line position alongside Will Bitten (MTL).

Scouting Report

  • Mark Edwards – HockeyProspect.com: He’s a pretty complete player, he plays a bit of a power game. He’s  really developed, this is a kid that was on a really strong Toronto Marlies team, and was kind of a third liner on those teams and they don’t get as much ice as some of the players ahead of them. He kept impressing last year, and I didn’t watch Hamilton a ton last year as there wasn’t a whole lot there as far as draft eligibles. But he just kept impressing last year. Good offensive upside, really the motor’s going high. He goes hard to the net, starting to drive the net and really fend off checkers and protect the puck well. He’s getting much better at using his teammates. So he’s a guy that I’m really interested to follow this year and see if he keeps developing at the pace he did last year”. (Interview with Guy Flaming on The Pipeline Show in Sept. 16 – Source)
  • Future Considerations: “A big forward who plays a heavy, grinding game…an average skater, with decent acceleration, that moves well for a big man and gets from point A to point B effectively…a hard-hitting power-forward who throws his weight around…on the forecheck he uses his hitting and long reach to loosen the puck and cause turnovers…has a hard, rising shot and he gets a lot of chances around the net…has the hands and strength to win puck possession along the wall…active on the PK and in the defensive zone…pressures the point hard…looks good on a line with skill guys because he was able to create space for them and drive the middle lane to open up the outside…he gives an honest effort every time he touches the ice, whether it be with the puck, in the defensive zone, or on the forecheck…has the potential to develop into a top-six two-way power forward at the NHL level. (Source)
  • Grant McCagg – Recrutes.ca: “With the possible exception of Cale Fleury, no skater helped their draft stock more on Team Cherry than the rangy center/winger. Entwistle entered the [CHL Prospects] game without a goal in his last nine games and four goals in his previous 36 after starting the season with seven goals in his first nine contests and working his way into many scouts first round, only to see a drop in recent weeks as it became apparent that his NHL upside may only be as a hard-working bottom-line forward. While he may lack high-end puck skills and lateral mobility, he is a strong north-south skater with smarts who works hard at both ends of the ice. He looks like a safe bet to one day play in the NHL…the question will be on what line?(Source)
  • Brock Otten – OHL Prospects: “Easily one of my favourite players available in this draft class. His offensive abilities are vastly underrated IMO. Not to the point where I think he can be a first line player in the NHL. But I think he could easily have the same sort of impact a guy like Boone Jenner is having in the NHL currently, as a 2nd/3rd liner, 40 point player. When he’s played against his peers on the big stage, this guy has consistently elevated his play. He was terrific at the Top Prospect’s Game this year. And he was easily Canada’s most consistent and dangerous forward at the U18’s, where he led Canada in scoring. His stats with Hamilton this year weren’t terrific. But he was consistently receiving 3rd line minutes and saw very little powerplay time. He also went through a bout of mono towards the end of the year that really limited his effectiveness down the stretch, leading into the playoffs. Bottom line is this, Entwistle is an incredibly complete player that coaches at the next level are going to love.” (Source)
  • McKeen’s Hockey – Draft Guide:Coming into the year, Hamilton and draft pundits had high hopes for the versatile forward. A toolsy player who showed some aptitude as a rookie the previous year, it was assumed that he would be ready to step into the spotlight. Things did not quite work out that way. Injuries played a role, but truthfully, it is hard to excuse a forward producing only 25 points in 54 games in his draft eligible year. If it were not for a stellar performance for Team Canada at the end of season U18 tournament, he may have been a fair ways from this respectable ranking. That event served as a reminder that Entwistle still has all of the tools that had scouts excited a few months prior. The Mississauga native is physical, yet not dirty and is extremely committed to the defensive game. He is a tenacious defender and thinks nothing about throwing his body into hot spots. He is a plus, although short of exceptional skater and he shows the quickness in his hands, if not the confidence to suggest that more offense is in his future. If there is a sign that he is truly limited offensively from a skills standpoint, it is due to his shot. His wrist shot is unimpressive, lacking substantial power and much in the way of accuracy. Four goals in the WU18 cannot change that. He is a gamble, but an intriguing one any time after the middle of the second round.” (Source)
  • Craig Button – TSN: MacKenzie Entwistle was [Canada’s] best player. Period. End of story. From the drop of the puck in Game 1 right until the last second of the Quarter Final game. His play was strong in every single area. He didn’t just get points, without the puck, with the puck, defensive zone, offensive zone, penalty killing, power play in front of the net.. You try to think about a player and you know a player who had a shift or two that weren’t really good, but I can’t remember a bad shift Mackenzie Entwistle had in the tournament. I thought he was absolutely terrific…I can say this unequivocally, how he came here and played I think he showed his capabilities, he showed his potential, and he was terrific from start to finish and in between.” (Recap of the IIHF U18 in April – Source)

Personal observations

Entwistle has a very smooth stride, and he always has his motor running. One of the many reasons coaches and fans will love his game is his commitment to finishing the play. Entwistle won’t always crush the opposition (although he’s quite capable) but he always makes his presence known with consistent body contact. He is adept at disrupting the flow of play for the opposition in all three zones. Entwistle identifies his man to cover each shift, and neutralizes them due to an effective physical game. Entwistle is allergic to giving up on the smart hockey play.

Very agile for his size, as a centre he covers the ice well thanks to his large wingspan. He continues to fill out his frame, something that player development staff will help him identify in July at development camps. He improved on the dot in the second half of the season, and will become more effective when he bulks up. A casual scouting mission might lead someone to assume Entwistle tends to play a simple north-south game; in reality he is a committed to playing within the systems his coaching staff have laid out. When in the offensive zone, he is most effective bulling his way to the net from the corners. Entwistle will be an asset to any line that relies on a cycle game, due to his ability to grind it out along the boards.

He has enough skill to distribute the puck where ever he needs it to be to enhance the play. He is a player who can easily fit into a team’s structure, and is willing to accept any role that will put his team into a position to win. This will factor into his potential for sustainability in the professional ranks.

Where will he go?

Entwistle is all over the place on various draft rankings. Bob MacKenzie’s final list comes out this week and will give us a final preview of where he may slide in. Entwistle is going to be drafted, a prospect that Bulldogs fans haven’t been accustomed to in the last two drafts. It is very difficult to find anyone who negatively critiques him as a prospect. The only question mark for his future will be how many points can he put on the board as he develops in the Ontario Hockey League, and at the next level. His lack of offensive output likely will hold him back from being a first round candidate this season. That said, his ability to stand out in the CHL Prospects Game, along with three very strong performances with Team Canada over the last two years leads me to believe he’ll be selected in the second round.

The New Jersey Devils have been shopping the OHL early in the draft in recent years. They currently hold the 49th pick in the second round. Soft prediction is Entwistle may be wearing a red jersey on Saturday.

The 2017 NHL Draft Series

Feature Image: Barry Gray / The Hamilton Spectator

About The Author

Krist Hayes

Krist is fan of the game of hockey that has been moonlighting as a blogger recently writing about the OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs. Reckless since his days as a crease-crasher. Tweet him @kristhayes

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Reckless Restraint

A blog for fans of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League. Updates, reports & musings on the team, players, and prospects.

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