TLN Top Twenty Prospects: No. 19 – Andrew MacWilliam

Jon Steitzer
August 20 2013 10:02AM

Name: Andrew MacWilliam
Position: Defenseman
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
Size: 6’2, 214 lbs.
2013 Teams: University of North Dakota, Toronto Marlies
Acquired: Draft- 7th Round, 2008

What can be said about the Andrew MacWilliam? He’s certainly a prospect in the Leafs organization. He’s a left-handed shot. He’s not one that garnered a lot of attention over the past five years he’s been kicking around the Leafs system (a rare Cliff Fletcher draftee), but he’s one prospect that I think we might be hearing a fair bit about in the next year.

MacWilliam is following the Matt Frattin road to the pros (minus the lawnmower throwing). He’s an Albertan kid who committed himself to the University of North Dakota (possibly after hearing how great the Grand Forks Olive Garden is). After a full stint at the school MacWilliam was good enough to have his name muttered in early Hobey Baker talk before that fizzled out and the reality that defensive defensemen don’t win MVP awards set in. MacWilliam served as team captain during his senior year in North Dakota, which I’m sure had the Leafs senior leadership team buckling at the knees.

The thing that has me concerned about MacWilliam is that his college career has been spent on WCHA powerhouse team. How much of his success is due to his supporting cast. Steve Dangle asked Joe Meloni of the College Hockey News who confirmed that “he (MacWilliam) was a very good player on a very good team.” That quells some of the fears that Derrek Forbort, Jordan Schmaltz, and Dillon Simpson might have sheltered MacWilliam.

Here’s what Leafs Director of Player Development, Jim Hughes had to say about Andrew MacWilliam when asked by Alec Brownscombe of MLHS earlier this month:

"He played at North Dakota, he played four years and was the Captain at North Dakota last year. This is a big, imposing physical player. He's a good first pass guy. He is mean and it's natural. He's very competitive. He's got the right mentality, he's got a pro mentality. He's got some force when he hits. His puck skills have really improved over the last four years; he can move the puck efficiently. He's got the mental makeup that is going to take him a long way in this sport. He'll be fun to watch and we'll see what he does at the AHL level, but this is a big, physical player. He might be a lot like Mark Fraser down the road; a big, physical, left-shot D, a #5 guy who brings a physical presence to the team. He'll be another one of those guys who comes in, plays solid minutes, gets some AHL experience, but he certainly has the mentality and the makeup."

So what we know about MacWilliam is this: He’s big, he likes to hit, he sees time on the penalty kill, he has no business wandering into the offensive zone, he’s basically Mark Fraser with less punching (I’m assuming less punching, but it’s hard to tell with players coming out of the NCAA).

This all leads me to believe that MacWilliam will be a blue collar favourite in the Leafs organization very soon. Given his age (23) and his experience playing against older competition I wouldn’t be surprised if MacWilliam is on a faster track to spot duty in the NHL but with much lower expectations than the rest of the prospect pool.

Despite MacWilliam being ranked 19th I am comfortable betting on MacWilliam getting a taste of the NHL by late this season. His defensive defenseman role and age will get him a look and since you’re not too worried about limiting his potential you don’t care if he’s parked in the press box for a week or if he plays eight minutes a night. MacWilliam likely tops out as a reserve defenseman and as a potential future captain of the Marlies. I’d conveniently dump him into the Jamie Sifers, Jay Harrison, Phil Oreskovic level of prospect where you’re happy that when you’re on your third defensive call-up you feel comfortable that you’re advancing towards your lottery pick with dignity. Basically he’s a couple of steps ahead of Andy Wozniewski.

Andrew MacWilliam is a short term, low risk prospect who buys the organization a bit of time while the blue chips develop and MacWilliam will meet all of my expectations if he keeps Korbinian Holzer out of the Leafs lineup. With the Marlies focusing on development, and the Leafs only having 14 defensemen on one way contracts (assuming Franson re-signs) there will be plenty of space for MacWilliam on the Marlies roster and it seems unlikely that he will need to spend time in Orlando.

Here’s a Spotlight on MacWilliam by the University of North Dakota

Previously in the countdown:
#20: David Broll
Honourable Mentions

F1419f8fff60b464c7daa85aa19fdb9f
I used to wear hats all the time, but I seldom do anymore. Twitter: @yakovmironov Blog: www.yakovmironov.com
Avatar
#1 Yesby TD
August 20 2013, 02:59PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
+1
1
props

Go Habs Go Go Habs Go 1967 1967 1967 1967.

Avatar
#2 kadri2kessel
August 20 2013, 11:09AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
2
props

Don Cherry would be proud of this list so far. I had MacWilliam lower on my list.

But I understand the attraction with him as not only leaf fans but leaf management think that big hits, intimidation and grit should force turnovers and prevent scoring chances. The leafs management seems to have entirely bought into the Randy Carlyle School of Hockey.

Avatar
#3 clrkaitken
August 20 2013, 10:21AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
6
props

This is an interesting contrast, because we had MacWilliam almost at the bottom of our list for many of the same reasons.

He's older than most of the other Leaf prospects and he's limited offensively.

The idea that he'll jump from the NCAA to the AHL and immediately be a better option than Korbinian Holzer, who now is in his 5th season in the AHL, strikes me as odd. If MacWilliam becomes what we think he'll be, he basically becomes Holzer.

That also doesn't take into account that Jesse Blacker is still with the Marlies and should be taking on a bigger role this year, and Stuart Percy and Petter Granberg join the Marlies this year as well.

My feeling is MacWilliam will be a third-pairing guy for the Marlies this season, or shuttled down to Orlando.

Avatar
#5 Justin Fisher
August 20 2013, 11:02AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
1
props
Jon Steitzer wrote:

Proof that you don't read my posts :(

Haha, I just cut a big chunk of it. I was just looking for that 'blue chipper' comment that was in the sentence before your quote.

In fact, reading your post is how I figured out where the comment came from.

Avatar
#6 You're wrong.
August 20 2013, 01:12PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
0
props

Mission accomplished ;)

Avatar
#7 cirkaitken
August 20 2013, 02:37PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
1
props

Gauthier Could be our best prospect, he already has good size, if he can develop more skill and improve his skating, we could have a potential Top Six player. If he is a Bust, Habs fans will say we choose him so he wouldn't fall to them.

Avatar
#8 kadri2kessel
August 20 2013, 02:40PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
3
props

Like to add that Justin Fisher is a dreamboat, IMO, gO lEAFS!!

Avatar
#9 DP
August 20 2013, 07:16PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
0
props

"Toronto has one of the Lowest ranking for prospects again, per Hockey Futures and Hockey Prospectus.com Habs Top 5."

Is there somebody else here who normally posts as "DP"? Because I did not write that. The Habs have been hated by generations of my family dating back to the 1930's

Avatar
#10 Justin Fisher
August 20 2013, 10:43AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
1
props
clrkaitken wrote:

This is an interesting contrast, because we had MacWilliam almost at the bottom of our list for many of the same reasons.

He's older than most of the other Leaf prospects and he's limited offensively.

The idea that he'll jump from the NCAA to the AHL and immediately be a better option than Korbinian Holzer, who now is in his 5th season in the AHL, strikes me as odd. If MacWilliam becomes what we think he'll be, he basically becomes Holzer.

That also doesn't take into account that Jesse Blacker is still with the Marlies and should be taking on a bigger role this year, and Stuart Percy and Petter Granberg join the Marlies this year as well.

My feeling is MacWilliam will be a third-pairing guy for the Marlies this season, or shuttled down to Orlando.

Leafs management seems really high on him. Can't remember exactly who said it and when, but someone in the Leafs brass referred to MacWilliam's as a 'blue chipper' and offered his name up when the topic of conversation was the Leafs' impact prospects.

Avatar
#11 Justin Fisher
August 20 2013, 10:52AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
1
props

Found it.

It was in Alec Brownscombe's interview with Jim Hughes...

"There’s one guy you are missing who is a little bit of a blue chip. Andrew MacWilliam. He played at North Dakota, he played four years and was the Captain at North Dakota last year. This is a big, imposing physical player. He’s a good first pass guy. He is mean and it’s natural. He’s very competitive. He’s got the right mentality, he’s got a pro mentality. He’s got some force when he hits. His puck skills have really improved over the last four years; he can move the puck efficiently. He’s got the mental makeup that is going to take him a long way in this sport..."

http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2013/08/02/an-interview-with-leafs-director-of-player-development-jim-hughes/

Avatar
#13 clrkaitken
August 20 2013, 11:03AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
2
props

@Justin Fisher

I don't have a problem with the quote, per se (Although a guy who had 4 goals in 4 NCAA seasons is a curious definition of "blue chipper").

But the idea that he's already strong enough to surpass Holzer on the depth chart is something I can't agree with. Holzer wasn't nearly good enough to be given the role he briefly had in the NHL, but I struggle to see how MacWilliam is already there in his development wihtout playing a single game as a pro.

The other thing is, Granberg is a similar player, but is younger than Holzer and MacWilliam, and the Leafs appear high on him too.

http://sports.nationalpost.com/2013/07/17/under-the-radar-prospect-petter-granberg-makes-an-impression-on-leafs/

In this article Dave Morrisson suggests Granberg could jump straight to the NHL. Now I don't think that happens given the Leafs logjam at the NHL, but I've got to think a guy that's younger and played 2 seasons in Sweden's top league, and against NHL players in international play, is ahead of an NCAA defenceman in the depth chart.

Avatar
#14 Steve Dangle
August 20 2013, 11:09AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
1
props

I booked Andrew MacWilliam for an interview back in 2008 when I was writing for Gino Reda's junior hockey radio show. It's at the 17:40 mark, if commenters are interested. http://images.theglobeandmail.com/v5/content/globesports/juniorHockeyRadio/2008-09/20081017.mp3

Avatar
#15 Justin Fisher
August 20 2013, 11:41AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
0
props

@clrkaitken

Well, many of us don't consider Holzer a prospect. Holzer is 25 and has played in men's leagues since 2007. He's only managed 22 NHL games.

It wouldn't strike me as a huge surprise if the Leafs want to have MacWilliam 'get a look' over Holzer, especially if it's later in the season and the games are meaningless.

As for Granberg, I don't see why we're arguing the virtues of who's better/who's got a better show when you haven't seen where/if we ranked Granberg.

Avatar
#16 Justin Fisher
August 20 2013, 11:43AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
0
props
kadri2kessel wrote:

Don Cherry would be proud of this list so far. I had MacWilliam lower on my list.

But I understand the attraction with him as not only leaf fans but leaf management think that big hits, intimidation and grit should force turnovers and prevent scoring chances. The leafs management seems to have entirely bought into the Randy Carlyle School of Hockey.

I'm not so sure Don Cherry would be proud of a list that just ranked two of the Leafs' most aggressive, physical, mean, and face-punchy prospects at the BOTTOM.

Your troll logic needs work, bruh.

Avatar
#17 clrkaitken
August 20 2013, 11:48AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
0
props

@Justin Fisher

I'm not arguing MacWilliam vs. Granberg.

I'm just kind of saying I don't buy the idea MacWilliam is closer to the NHL this fall than Holzer.

I only brought up Granberg because I think he's one of the guys in MacWilliam's way.

Avatar
#18 DP
August 20 2013, 01:40PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
4
props

"he’s basically Mark Fraser with less punching"

Yes, I think that's a good synopsis of his potential.

He might be quite useful as a future captain of the Marlies. He might be ok as an injury call up or 7th defenseman in a few years. Perhaps he could replace if Mark Fraser, if Fraser becomes too expensive.

“I’d conveniently dump him into the Jamie Sifers, Jay Harrison, Phil Oreskovic level of prospect...”

He’s way better than Phil Oreskovic, who can’t even stay in the AHL at 26 and is now in the ECHL.

He’s also probably not as good as Jay Harrison, who has quietly put together a bit of a career with 249 NHL games and a one year high of 9 goals and 23 points in 2011/12.

Avatar
#19 DP
August 20 2013, 02:56PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
1
props

Toronto has one of the Lowest ranking for prospects again, per Hockey Futures and Hockey Prospectus.com Habs Top 5.

Avatar
#20 Justin Fisher
August 20 2013, 03:02PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
1
props

@DP

Probably because the Leafs' prospect pool isn't all that great...

Toronto definitely has few nice pieces but they're not a stacked system.

Avatar
#21 Justin Fisher
August 20 2013, 06:19PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
1
props

You guys calling me a Dreamboat and "Studly', my partner says the same thing.

Avatar
#22 DP
August 20 2013, 09:55PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
1
props

Not me posting at 07:16 tonight, I have been a Leafs and Habs fan for years, PS Reports coming out after tonights Blown doubleheader vs the Yankees by our Blue Jays that we are getting funds from New York to lay down in games if New York is still in the race.

Comments are closed for this article.