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Canmore prospect named to NHL Central Scouting’s ‘watch list’

NHL scouts are keeping tabs on Canmore hockey prospect Finn McLaughlin this season.

CANMORE – NHL scouts are keeping tabs on Canmore’s Finn McLaughlin this season.

The local 17-year-old defenceman’s season had its first big moment when he was added to the NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list on Oct. 25, which will be updated as scouts get eyes on players.

McLaughlin, whose hockey IQ has been highly touted by several previous coaches, received a “C” rating on the list, meaning those players have potential to be selected in the fourth or fifth round of the 2024 NHL Draft.

“I’m really fortunate to be recognized by those guys, but it doesn’t change anything I’m doing with my team,” said McLaughlin. “I’m focusing just on hockey. It’s great to have that, but it’s not the end goal. It’s to keep focusing on the season and helping my team the best I can.”

A first-year defenceman for the Youngstown Phantoms, a Tier 1 junior team based in Ohio, from the United States Hockey League, the local prospect is savvy in quarterbacking an offence from the blue line.

This past summer, the lefty got ready for the step up in competition with the Phantoms by adding strength, speed, mass – and a classic teenage growth spurt – to his game.

“I’ve definitely gotten a lot stronger and faster off-ice and that has translated to on-ice,” said McLaughlin, who’s listed as six-foot-one. “I’m really confident with the puck right now. I’m making a lot of really good plays and creating a lot of offence for my team.” 

The Canmore hockey player, who is a dual citizen, has earned some nice trophy case eye-catchers over the past few seasons playing for USA Hockey.

While playing on the US U18 team this past August, McLaughlin and his teammates defeated Finland 5-3 to take bronze at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Trenčin, Slovakia. 

The local lefty was leaned on in every game for the United States, bringing a high hockey knowledge, playmaking and an offensive-defenceman mindset to the blue line. On defence, McLaughlin focused on finishing checks and being tough to play against.

Last year, the blue-liner additionally played a big part in the U17 US team’s silver medal at the Five Nations tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Canmore-raised defenceman also had a stint for the hometown Junior A Eagles in 2022-23, playing in 39 regular season games in a shortened season for him due to a wrist injury. He scored four goals and 21 points.

Eagles head coach Andrew Milne said the club has been a small part of his development, but as a group, they’re proud of and happy for McLaughlin.

“I know he’d be the first to say that’s just the beginning,” said Milne. “From our standpoint, Finn is a special player, with his commitment, his attention to detail and his desire to be a player is second to none. 

“With a little bit more time and the fact that he works on it every single day and does the little things, I think that’s going to add up over time and the best things for Finn are still to come.”

Canmore’s Jacob Bernard-Docker was the last locally raised player selected in an NHL draft, when the defenceman was taken 26th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2018.

Calgary’s Alex Young was the last Canmore Eagle drafted when the San Jose Sharks selected the forward in the seventh round in 2020.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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