According to insiders Rick Dhaliwal and Thomas Drance, it appears that the former 2019 draft pick has decided to return for his senior year at Northeastern University.
The conversation around McDonough first picked up on Friday evening after his team was eliminated from the NCAA playoff race. McDonough was instrumental in that game, notching the game-tying goal with just over three minutes left in the third period, but eventually fell to first seed Western Michigan Broncos by a score of 2-1 in overtime.
The Canucks reportedly continued to check in with McDonough and his camp for the rest of the weekend, hoping that the 22-year-old winger would sign with the organization for the upcoming 2022-23 NHL season.
However, after speaking with his family and coaches at Northeastern, as well as current Canucks’ General Manager Patrik Allvin, McDonough decided that it would be best to stay in Boston for one more year.
McDonough had an extremely impressive year with the Huskies this past season, leading the team in goals (25), powerplay goals (6), game-winning goals (5) and points (39) in just 38 games played.
However, the former 195th overall pick still believes that there are a few areas of his gameplay that need improvement, specifically his defensive play and skating abilities, which he is hoping to develop during his senior year at Northeastern.
Following his decision, McDonough also reached out to Canucks’ reporter Patrick Johnston via text, further explaining his reasoning to hold off on the NHL for the time-being.
"“I feel it will be best for my development to continue to work on the things I need to work on. Another year to improve my skating and get physically ready for a professional season. We will also have a very good team next year and compete for championships. My education is also important so being able to graduate is a big deal for myself and my family.”"
Of course, this is not the end of the road for McDonough and the Canucks who, according to McDonough, were “awesome throughout this process and have been supportive of me.”
The organization will still be able to keep close tabs on McDonough and his overall development during Northeastern’s 2022-23 season, much like they have already been doing since drafting the 6’2, 200-pound winger back in 2019.
Depending on Vancouver’s playoff picture next year, McDonough could also join the team for the final stretch of the 2022-23 season if interested.
However, if the Canucks want to avoid losing McDonough to unrestricted free agency, similar to Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes back in the day, they’ll need to sign McDonough to a contract before August 15th, 2023.
Fortunately, the Canucks still have a handful of prospects in their system right now, including Jack Rathbone and Will Lockwood, both of whom should receive big opportunities to showcase their potential and talent with the Canucks in this final stretch of the season.
The Canucks will wrap up their current four-game road trip on Monday night, taking on Ryan O’Reilly and the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center.
Puck drop is set for 4:30pm PST.
What are your thoughts on McDonough’s decision to stay with Northeastern? Let us know in the comments!