By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
The NHL Draft, unlike similar events in the NFL and NBA, is designed first and foremost to build organizations for the medium- and long-term future, and not to fill immediate roster needs as the NFL and NBA Drafts do.
The St. Louis Blues have become one of the NHL's top organizations at using the draft to build for the future, and in this year's draft the Blues' braintrust once again stuck to the time-tested formula by using their first four selections on players who are bound for high-level university programs, and who are all in a range of two to four years out from making their pro debuts.
With their third pick in the 2012 Entry Draft at 67th overall, the Blues journeyed into enemy territory to snag another potential power forward, this one from suburban Detroit. Mackenzie Maceachern is a tall and lanky Michigan native who has a nose for the net, and who will be developing at Michigan State after a year in junior with the Chicago Steel, who recently chose him fourth overall in the USHL Entry Draft.
Maceachern was ranked 138th in North America by the NHL's Central Scouting Service in their Final rankings, which represents a significant jump up from not being ranked at all by CSS at Midterm. The Michigander operated in stealth mode as far as most other major hockey scouting pundits were concerned, however, as neither "The Hockey News" or International Scouting Services had Maceachern ranked for this draft.
Maceachern didn't fly under the radar for scouts in Michigan, however, as his presence drew scouts in droves to Brother Rice's games. The Warriors started the season losing five of their first nine games before going on a 21-game undefeated streak (20-0-1) on their way to capturing the Division 2 state championship, the third such title in school history. Maceachern also earned a spot on the 2012 Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association Division 2 All-State Team, and was named the 2012 winner of Michigan's Mr. Hockey Award.
Maceachern's coach, Lou Schmidt, has had nothing but praise for his senior center all season long, and cited Maceachern's loyalty to his team as an important part of his makeup, noting that Maceachern passed on an opportunity to play in the North American League and was the first player in Schmidt's nine years at Brother Rice to accept a scholarship and then come back to play his senior year at his high school.
"(Mac) is a very special player, for sure," Schmidt said in an interview with MI Prep Zone.com. "He blossomed last year and has continued to get better. He has drawn a lot of scouts to watch him play. I think what ended up happening is some of the other colleges realized that they might want to get in on (him). The top programs get first choice, so as it kind of trickles down, some of the other schools have to make a decision as to whether or not they're going to try and grab some of these top players before the Michigans and Michigan States get to him.
"Michigan State's got some very smart scouts and coaches over there and they know what they're looking for and they see potential. And Mac is loaded with potential."
Reel Hockey Scouting.com has a comprehensive profile of Maceachern, along with over 20 minutes of video, posted HERE. Maceachern wears #19 for Brother Rice (in white) in this video, and he stands out almost from the very beginning. He's almost always the tallest player on the ice in the video clip, and is an effortless skater who covers a lot of ice in a short time.
The "Reel Hockey Scouting.com" report on Maceachern reads, in part, that he is "(a)n all around powerful, seamless skater with excellent lateral agility," possessing excellent athleticism and balance, and explosiveness when turning back into a play.
"Reel Hockey Scouting.com" notes that Maceachern "(c)an be a daunting physical presence when he storms in hard and finishes his checks," but also noted that the winger can occasionally lose some intensity during a long game, and that he "(w)ill need to finish all of his checks at the next level of play."
Reel Hockey's overall impression of Maceachern is positive, however, and they sum up his skillset and potential in this way:
Possesses multiple threats on the offensive front. Has extraordinary vision and hockey sense, which makes everyone sharing the ice with him better. His long reach and strength help him protect the puck, fight through checks and create a work-space down low. A slick and crisp puck distributor. Attacks one-on-one with his stick skills, soft hands and ability to burst into vacant pockets with his power and ferocious footwork. Owns sharp hand/eye coordination that helps him create plays from out of nowhere. Is a towering presence and demands a lot of attention when he claims real estate in front of the net ... Has an exorbitant amount of upside. Is powerful with his game at the moment but with his burgeoning strength and speed, he has the possibility of becoming a dominant force within the professional realm.