Prospect Update: Blake McLaughlin

Photo: NHL

By Thomas Harrington

A third round pick from 2018, Blake McLaughlin completed his NCAA career at the University of Minnesota this past season and then signed with Anaheim and joined the Gulls on an ATO. McLaughlin played with fellow Anaheim prospects Jack Perbix and Jackson LaCombe at the University of Minnesota.

McLaughlin’s senior season saw him play in 39 games and score 13 goals and 33 points, setting career highs in games played, goals, assists, and points. In February, he recorded his 100th career point in the NCAA, the 86th player in Gophers history to hit that mark. He was recognized as an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection for this season. McLaughlin played in every game, and finished second on the team in points, third in assists, and fourth in goals. He recorded seven multi-point games and had a career high six-game point streak that started in December and finished in January. McLaughlin had a season high three points in the first game of the season.

Upon joining the Gulls, McLaughlin played in seven games to finish out the year and scored a goal while being primarily used in a bottom six role. His goal came in his third career AHL game. In those seven games he recorded 13 shots. McLaughlin played in both of San Diego’s playoff games and had an assist.

McLaughlin largely met my expectations from a year ago. First, I wanted him to be among the team’s offensive leaders. While he didn’t lead the team in any of the major statistical categories, he was top four or better in goals, assists, and points, while leading the team with 107 shots on goal. Second, I wanted him to be more of a consistent offensive threat throughout the season. His longest pointless streak of the season was four games, and that only happened once. Only one other time all season did he go two games in a row without a point, so he definitely met this expectation.

This will be McLaughlin’s first full year of AHL hockey, so I don’t want to set expectations too high for him. It often takes a while for college players to adjust to the professional game. Often the biggest issue is just the number of games they play. He’s used to playing 30 to 40 games a year, while the Gulls played exactly 70 games this past year between the regular season and playoffs. McLaughlin is a shooter, so my first expectation for him is to continue to average over two shots on goal per game. If he can keep getting his shots on net, the points will come. Second, I’d like him to play in a majority of San Diego’s games. He’ll be scratched some nights, but I don’t want to see him out of the game most nights.

McLaughlin will spend all of this year in the AHL. I’d be pretty surprised if he made his NHL debut. However, if he can have a strong rookie season, I could see him making his NHL debut in the 2023-2024 season. But, depending on how he’s developing, the Ducks may decide to give him two full years in the AHL before giving him a shot at the NHL. McLaughlin likely won’t ever be a big time scorer, but his effort and compete level could make him an effective bottom six winger in the future.

McLaughlin’s entry-level contract will begin this season and he’ll be a restricted free agent when it expires in two years. If McLaughlin can develop into a solid AHL scorer over the next two years, he’ll likely get another two-way deal. However, if he’s shown flashes at the NHL level, or spent a year or more in Anaheim, he could be in line for a one-way deal. But, if his offensive game doesn’t develop, the Ducks could choose not to qualify him in two years.

The next prospect update will be on Ethan Bowen.

Related Articles:

Prospect Update: Gage Alexander

Prospect Update: Jackson LaCombe

Prospect Update: Bryce Kindopp

Prospect Update: Hunter Drew

Prospect Update: Brayden Tracey

Prospect Update: BO Groulx

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August 20th, 2022



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