Stop me if you’ve heard this before but late in the draft, the Lightning selected an overage NCAA bound forward. Specifically, they used their last pick in the seventh round, 213 overall, to draft forward McKade Webster. Even by Lightning standards, Webster was an obscure pick. He only played six games last season due to injury. But nevertheless, we will bravely continue with an attempt to profile a player with no meaningful stats or video of his most recent season.
To get us started, Dobber Prospects has a recent scouting report.
June 2019 – Webster was drafted in the Seventh Round of the 2019 Draft by the Lightning at 213th Overall. After going undrafted in 2018, Webster returned to the Green Bay Gamblers for his second season in the USHL, however, injury limited him to just six games in 2018-2019, where he posted just two assists after notching 11 goals and 30 points in 58 games in 2017-2018. Webster’s offensive potential is bolstered by his skating and forechecking ability, as he’s able to close gaps on defenders well and pounce on turnovers in order to generate scoring opportunities. Lacks high-end skill and offensive zone vision, and likely carries most of his value as a depth forward if he reaches the next level. Brandon Holmes
For a little more context, the Hockey Prospect Black Book from 2018 had one report from a single game.
Gamblers #14 C Mckade Webster (2018) Plays with a lot of energy. Demonstrated offensive awareness and a good forecheck by intercepting a couple of passes along the boards. Had a tape to tape cross crease saucer pass in the first, that set up his teammate for a scoring chance. Was holding onto the puck in certain sequences for too long when he couldn’t find passing options, this lead to turnovers.
From those two reports, we can pick out a couple of commonalities. Both scouts compliment his effort level in the offensive zone and his forechecking. The first report says he lacks high end offensive skill but the second suggests he’s at least competent in that area and showed some playmaking ability. Both reports agree that his decision making with the puck in the offensive zone is lacking at times.
That sounds about right for a forward the Lightning would take at the end of a draft. Not many players available that late have high end skill. So instead, the Lightning picked a smart player who plays hard, skates well, and flashed some talent.
From a stats perspective, since he only played six games last season, we have to dig into his first draft eligible year in which he scored nearly a half of a point per game. On its face, that isn’t particularly impressive. Especially in the USHL. But with a late July birthday, he was a very young player for his class. That makes his production look slightly better but even in that context, he probably wasn’t on many teams’ radars during last summer’s draft.
If I had to guess, I’d say that Webster was near the bottom of the Lightning’s list of draftable players last year and they liked him enough to carry him over to the end of this year’s list. And maybe at this year, they got far enough down their list to make it worth taking a chance on Webster despite missing last season.
This fall, he’ll be heading to a good program at Univesity of Denver. He’ll join fellow Lightning prospects forward Cole Guttman and goalie Magnus Chrona. Chrona will also be in his freshman season while Guttman will be looking to build on an excellent first NCAA year in which he scored 26 points in 41 games. Guttman was a 6th round pick in 2017 and is already showing promise. Webster will be looking to follow the same path.
Seventh round picks rarely become NHL players. A professional hockey career at any level would be a positive outcome for a player picked at number 213. Webster will look to join other recent late forward picks by the Lightning who overperformed their draft spot. That journey starts this fall in Denver as he’ll compete to earn minutes on a team that expects to be good every season.