Owen Sound Attack rookie goaltender, Michael McNiven, has made good use of his limited playing time so far this season. The 2015 NHL Draft eligible prospect has posted impressive numbers in his 8 games. McNiven has a 7-1 record with an impressive .953 save percentage and a 1.49 goals against average. He’s also posted 2 shutouts.
HockeyProspect.com has seen McNiven going back to AAA with the Halton Hurricanes and last season with Georgetown in the OJHL. With Halton, HockeyProspect.com saw him as being a very raw prospect, but with huge potential. Last season he was able to chip away some of that rawness in his game, he played 35 games with Georgetown.
HP’s Mark Edwards has also seen McNiven live this season. “The first game I saw him this year was a Saturday night in Owen Sound versus Guelph. It was just myself and two other scouts there that night,” he said. “McNiven got his first win and was impressive doing it. I’ve seen him since that game and he’s been even better,” he added.
Edwards noted what he’s seen from McNiven this season. “He’s played big in the net, flashed a quick glove and showed the ability to make second and third saves.” He added, “I love his poise and how confident he seems to to be already. He reminds me a bit of Mason McDonald (Calgary 34th overall 2015) last season in that way.”
HockeyProspect.com ranked McNiven with a 2nd round grade in their most recent NHL Draft rankings sent out to clients.
HockeyProspect.com: You’ve gotten off to an excellent start to your OHL career. What’s been the key for you so far?
Michael McNiven: I’m just doing all the basics. Working hard in practice, making the most of my time with the goalie coach and really just focusing on the speed and everything that’s different in the OHL. Like I said I’ve just been working hard in practice and trying to take that into a game.
HP: What’s the biggest adjustment transitioning from the OJHL to the OHL?
MM: The speed is pretty fast. The shots are about the same in accuracy, but the speed of the shots is a lot faster, and the speed that they come in on breakaways is a lot faster.
HP: How happy are you with your game this season?
MM: You know obviously everything seems to be going fine for me, but I put a lot of that on my team. I mean, they play great in front of me. If you watch a game and you count how many shots could actually hit me you’d say around 60, and probably 25-30 of them are blocked shots. My team works hard for me when I play. They block a lot of shots and they sacrifice their body as I try to do for them. So I put a lot of that (early success) on my team, how they work in practice, and how they make it work in games.
HP: Is there any aspect of your game you feel has evolved or gotten better as the year has gone on?
MM: I’ve worked out a lot with Greg Redquest the goalie coach in Owen Sound, and we’ve been working a lot on rebound control and everything a goalie needs to work on. (We’ve) worked on the style that I play with my stance and have been working on it trying to make it a lot better and so far it’s coming along.
HP: What do you view as the strengths of your game?
MM: I feel like I have a strong stick and an active glove. I’m really good at tracking the puck with my glove, and I can put pucks out into the mesh if my team needs a whistle. My stick and my glove are pretty good, and also making big saves that are needed late in games and what not.
HP: Every player has things they can improve on so what aspect of your game would you like to get better at?
MM: I’d like to get better at tightening my stance up and being more mobile in the butterfly on my knees. I do a lot of split stuff, and diving across the ice and I’ve got to stop that, stay focused, in position and make it easier on myself instead of tiring myself out.
HP: Which goaltender do your model your game after?
MM: I model my game after Jonathan Quick. He has really powerful legs, can push side-to-side quickly, make big saves when they’re needed and also play a consistent game.
HP: Who has the best shot you’ve faced?
MM: Jason Dickinson and Robby Fabbri on Guelph, Justin Bailey on Kitchener and there’s a few other good ones out there. I don’t really look at it in a game and it’s sometimes hard to remember so I couldn’t tell you spot on, but those are some guys who shoot the puck pretty hard and accurate.
HP: Lastly, have you focused on your draft status at all or do you try and block that out?
MM: I haven’t read too much into it. I’ve gotten lots of text messages from family members and what not saying ‘good job,’ ‘congrats on your ranking’ and that kind of stuff. I kind of block it out and it doesn’t really phase me. If anything it gives me a bit more confidence.