Sometimes a player falls in the draft and a team finds a late-round gem. The Flyers are hoping that is the case with Connor McClennon.
He’s 5’8 and weighs about 157 pounds, and broke his collar bone in January which essentially ended his season. That’s how a guy ranked #92nd by Craig Button drops into the 6th round and to pick 178. Chuck Fletcher though probably had some inside information at his disposal when evaluating the diminutive (a term all writers are required to use for a player under 5’10”) forward.
McClennon’s junior coach with the Winnipeg Ice is James Patrick, the uncle of Nolan Patrick. He’s also close friends with Ridly Greig, an Ottawa Senators 1st round draft pick who is the son of Mark Greig, a scout for the Flyers. Pre-injury he was having himself quite a season too. In 42 games he scored 21 goals and had 28 assists for 49 points. He’s been an effective scorer at every level. At the 18-19 U17 tournament McClennon scored 8 goals in 5 games for Team Canada, which helped him keep pace with a popular name from last year’s draft, Cole Caufield.
The statement from Brent Flahr, Flyers’ assistant general manager was “One of the top picks in the Western League. Has been a prolific scorer in his age group. His competitiveness is very strong, very good motor. Very good shot and loves to shoot. Players his size need that. He has to get stronger, obviously, and he is working on that. We had a bit of an inside edge on him. He is good friends with Ridly Greig.”
It will be interesting to see what McClennon looks like in the WHL this season. He’s stated he’d like to bulk up to 170 pounds at least by the start of the season in January. His skating is good, and he’s a volume shooter with a great shot but not the most natural of scorers. If he continues to rely on a set-up man or starts finding his own way to the back of the net will be telling.
We do know that he’ll compete far bigger than his size. It is hard to imagine any team that would have more information on this particular player than the Flyers, so their educated guess on him is one that comes with a fair bit of research. If he becomes a player in the mold of Alex Debrincat or a Cory Conacher is something we’ll find out in time. We do know that the Flyers are willing to gamble on Connor McClennon.