Prospect Pulse: John McFarland
On a very quiet Friday morning, my boss and I were reading THN’s Top 50 Free Agent and Draft Preview issues and discussing players. When the talk turned to the U-18′s, he asked who my favourite player was, and I naturally replied Carl Klingberg. He then moved on to ask about favourites on various other teams and when he asked about Team Canada, I realized my guy was John McFarland. It wasn’t an especially big deal, but I did realize that I had neglected to post anything on him and that he wasn’t even draft eligible this year.
A 1992 birthdate, McFarland spent this season with the Sudbury Wolves, where he racked up 52 points in 58 games (21 G, 31 A). Not gaudy numbers but certainly very good for a 16 year old. I did not have the chance to see him in any OHL games, but did see him in several contests at the U-18′s, where he was very impressive. A smart and shifty centre, I really liked McFarland’s ability to get into the open and to get shots away quickly. A fairly sturdy looking 6’0, 192 pounds, McFarland plays with a bit of an edge and uses his size to his advantage at both ends of the rink.
In the games I saw he was quite good in the face-off circle, where he often overpowered the opposing centre to get control of the puck. Though I would likely call him more of a playmaking type centre, he still possesses a lethal shot, which as I mentioned earlier, he can get off quickly in tight spaces. McFarland displayed an excellent stride, good quickness and acceleration plus a tight turning radius which made him difficult to control from the hash marks in. I thought he somewhat overshadowed some of the draft eligible kids in this tourney, and while its dangerous to get all excited about a kid based on one tourney, it seems McFarland will be a good one.
An issue of the The Hockey News from some time ago named him as one of 5 OHL’ers to watch, and added that he compares to Steven Stamkos while mentioning that he is a dynamic playmaker that knows he is good. Though he didn’t seem to display any cockiness on the ice, he certainly wasn’t afraid to make plays that other skaters might not attempt. In my view, this confidence with the puck is a definite pro.
A former first overall pick in the OHL, look for McFarland to be a key contributor for Canada this summer at the Ivan Hlinka tournament and to follow that up with a solid season in the OHL. Though he is likely too young for World Junior consideration, don’t be surprised to see his name popping up on invite lists sooner rather than later.
If any of our readers have seen him play live in the OHL or midget, please add your thoughts in the comments.