Ostensibly, the rebuild is still on in Philadelphia. Now, I could quibble about what a…
WATCH: Full Interview with Connor McClennon
In the 6th round of the 2020 NHL draft, the Philadelphia Flyers selected Connor McClennon, winger and assistant captain for the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL, with the 178th overall pick. The 5’8 160lbs skater put up an impressive 49 points in 42 games this season.
McClennon wasn’t supposed to be a 6th round pick. In fact, he was projected to go 43rd overall by the NHL’s midterm rankings of North American skaters. But a collarbone injury sidelined McClennon at roughly the same time. If this had been any other season, McClennon would have been back by mid-March, but with the Coronavirus causing the CHL to suspend seasons early, he was never able to get back on the ice with his team.
Connor graciously agreed to sit down with me and answer some questions so that you, our Liberty Line readers/Philly sports fans, could get to know the Flyers’ latest prospect and learn what he’s all about.
To start, I asked Connor to describe his reaction to be drafted by Philadelphia:
“Yeah, you know, it’s a long day, you’re sitting there waiting pretty anxiously but being selected by the Flyers. I don’t think it could have been a better situation. I think just the success that organizations had and the management they have there is just going to be a really good situation for myself. And I think just now being able to look forward to something I mean, it’s been a long couple of months. I’ve nothing really to look forward to. So to be drafted now and have that, to work towards is, is definitely rewarding.”
Between injuries and the Coronavirus, the draft didn’t go as originally expected for McClennon, but he has kept a positive outlook on his situation:
“Obviously, getting here wasn’t easy, and then working back to trying to get back to play and not being able to do to COVID but obviously, it sucks a little bit. It probably hurt me a little bit in terms of where I went. But now that I’m picked, and it’s all said and done, I think it all worked itself out and I’m in a good organization. So I guess all in all it worked itself out.”
It’s no secret that McClennon isn’t the biggest guy on the ice, but he doesn’t let that affect his game, if anything he uses what others typically see as a disadvantage as motivation to get bigger and stronger and make the most of everything he has been given. McClennon isn’t stressing over the limitations that his height may have for him in the future, and he’s confident in his ability to develop into a player who can play whatever role is asked of him:
“Oh, I think just being a smaller guy and you push yourself a little more to get bigger get stronger because you know how hard it is to play against the guys your 6,2 200 and those big guys but the game is kind of turning in a direction that is favorable for guys like me so I think seeing what Brayden Point did this year in the Stanley Cup is something for being a smaller guy you kind of value I guess to see how good he’s done. But yeah, that’s no excuse now, I’m only five-eight. So that’s what I got to work with. And you kind of just got to build off of it. I think if I just keep moving in the right direction, getting bigger and stronger. Like I said, I think my game can kind of translate into any role at this point I’ve kind of played every role in junior, and then at the U18 level for Canada, I played on the fourth line there, and I kind of just adapted my game I guess but yeah, lots of development left to do and kind of just see what the future brings.”
Philly fans should be incredibly excited to follow McClennon’s development, he is a fast player with smooth hands who loves to score. He creates energy every time he’s on the ice and should be a real entertaining player to watch:
“I think I just a real passionate guy when I’m on the ice I love putting the puck in the back of the net or, or when a guy makes a big block shot I think just bringing that energy each and every time you’re on the ice and that passion as well as good for a team environment and good to keep I guess myself honest, to keep getting better and better each and every time I’m on the ice.”
McClennon knows what he aims to make improvements on this season to make that next step up to the NHL level:
“I think playing in both ends of the is something I can work on being a smaller guy being reliable in the defensive zone, and then I’m just getting bigger and stronger. Like I’ve kind of said, I think that’s just important for my game to translate to the next level.”
I for one am very excited to watch McClennon’s game progress and can’t wait to see what he’s able to do for this organization. Both Connor and Philly fans alike are quite hopeful to see what big things the fortunate late-round draft pick has in store for this Flyers team.