If you had to write a test about Mac Hollowell, knowing nothing other than he’s a defender from the Soo drafted by the Leafs, do you think you could pass? In most situations in life, the answer is no. Fortunately for you, though, Mac Hollowell is the stereotypical Leafs prospect you likely know nothing about. Moreover, you could probably pass this test by writing down every stereotype of Leafs defence prospects. Before I show you why, here is where our staff ranked him this year:
|Adam||Jon||Ryan Fancey||Megan||Ziggy||Scott||Thomas||ThatsKappy!||Hayley||Ryan Hobart||Dylan||Connor||Cat||Bobby||Mike||Wyatt|
Mac Hollowell is a nice story. Drafted in the 12th round of the 2014 OHL draft, he wasn’t exactly a highly touted prospect when he joined the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Heck, he even went undrafted in the 2017 NHL draft. But Hollowell became an NHL prospect because of some GM named Kyle Dubas. While Dubas first drafted Hollowell into the OHL as GM of the Greyhounds, he also drafted Hollowell (4th round, 118th overall) as an overager in the NHL draft four years later.
As a right-handed defender who can skate with the puck, Hollowell certainly fits Kyle Dubas’ idea of a modern defender. At 5”9 and 170 lbs, Hollowell is known for his strong skating and above-average transition skills.
Before the Leafs drafted him, he showed the team his intangibles first-hand. After breaking his leg at the Leafs development camp in 2017, Hollowell bounced back for a strong year in the OHL. The table below shows his basic counting stats over his OHL career:
Hollowell’s scoring exploded last season. His 0.89 points per game was good for 9th overall amongst OHL defenders. This is pretty similar to his teammate and fellow Leafs prospect Rasmus Sandin, who scored 0.88 P/GP. Furthermore, if we only look at primary points per game, Hollowell was 6th overall amongst OHL defenders.
And it’s not just power play production either. There were only 7 defenders in the OHL who earned more points per game at 5v5 than Hollowell, and only 6 defenders with more 5v5 primary points per game than him. He is an older player, sure, but production like that is better than nothing at all.
The table below (courtesy of prospect-stats.com) summarizes Hollowell’s production last season compared to other OHL defenders.
Hollowell produced like a true first pairing defender in the OHL last season. With this in mind, lets dig deeper to see what drives his success. To do this, we’ll use a viz from Mitch Brown’s amazing CHL tracking project.
The chart below quantifies aspects of Hollowell’s game that we don’t see on the score sheet. It’s important to remember that only 10 games have been tracked for Hollowell, so these numbers might change as the sample size increases. On the bright side, the percentiles compare Hollowell’s results to defenders in not just the OHL, but the WHL and QMJHL as well. Here’s how it looks:
There’s a lot going on here, so I’ll keep it simple: The takeaway is that Hollowell carries the puck across the blue-lines more often than most defenders in the CHL. (Hollowell’s transition skills show up in the sections titled “Entries” and “Exits”). Transition skills are a valuable skill for defenders in the NHL right now, so the fact that Hollowell is demonstrating this aspect of the game bodes well for his future.
Has his progression been as expected?
If anything, Hollowell has exceeded expectations. He started as a 12th round pick in the OHL and progressed all the way to the 4th round of the NHL draft four years later.
When I assess the progression of an older prospect like Hollowell, I often turn to prospect-stats.com to see how the players projections change over time. The model outperforms actual NHL picks, so it’s a useful way of quantifying the development of players who have played multiple seasons in the CHL. The final output of the model is often referred to as “Fair Value Pick Position.” Moreover, it indicates the draft position at which a team would receive fair value for selecting the player.
For Hollowell’s three seasons in the OHL, his draft value has risen from 180th overall in 2015-16 to 103rd overall in 2017-18. For reference, Hollowell fell 15 spots before the Leafs drafted him 118th overall.
As Seen on TV
Here are some highlights for your viewing pleasure.
Fourth round pick Mac Hollowell finished 5th this season in points amongst defensemen with 56 in 63 games.
Kyle went full Dubas on this one drafting the 5'9 smooth skating RHD from the greyhounds. pic.twitter.com/cW7DEYCL0W
— Nick DeSouza (@NickDeSouza_) July 3, 2018
Hollowell is a right handed defender with speed and skill, so the only comparable I’m allowed to make here is Erik Karlsson.
Mac Hollowell will almost definitely return to the OHL for a fourth season. Despite his excellent numbers, he has yet to play first pairing minutes for a full season. Returning to the Greyhounds as a 20 year old will give Hollowell the experience he needs to advance to the next level.
Also in this series: