LBC's Top 25 Panthers Under 25: #23 John McFarland
The list continues with San Antonio Rampage forward John McFarland. The fourth draft pick of the Dale Tallon era in Panthers history, McFarland's OHL career has been a roller-coaster. Playing for three different teams in four full seasons, McFarland is a career 0.87 point per game player in 217 OHL games.
While his OHL career hasn't been a disaster by any stretch, McFarland does have an uphill battle if he wants to reach and remain in the NHL.
Position: C/LW ▪ Shoots: Right
Height: 6-0 ▪ Weight: 192 lbs.
Born: April 2, 1992 (Age 20) in Richmond Hill, ON
Draft: Florida, 2nd round (33rd overall), 2010
Drafted first overall in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection by the Sudbury Wolves (three picks before Erik Gudbranson), McFarland played on Team Canada at the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships, where he was second in team scoring with eight points (3G/5A) in six games as Canada placed fourth. He also skated with Canada Ontario at the 2009 World U-17 Hockey Challenge, where was named to the Tournament All-Star Team, helping Canada Ontario win gold by leading the challenge in goals (9) and points (13), outscoring teammates and young All-Stars Tyler Seguin and Jeff Skinner.
In his rookie season with the Wolves, McFarland scored 52 points (21G/31A) in 58 games, tying with Jared Staal for fifth in Wolves scoring. The Wolves finished the season with the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and were eliminated by the Belleville Bulls in six games. McFarland played in all six games, scoring four points (1G/3A), tying for second on the team.
McFarland failed to live up to the hype and expectations in his sophomore season. He was invited to play with Canada at the 2010 IIHF World U18 Championships in Belarus. However he failed to exceed his point totals from the year before, scoring only five points (4G/1A) in six games, tied for fifth on the team as Canada finished seventh.
With the Wolves he scored only 50 points (20G/30A) in 64 games, while earning 70 penalties in minutes. The Wolves again reached the playoffs as an eighth seed, and were swept out by division rival Barrie Colts. McFarland did do his part and led the Wolves in goals with three and tied with three other teammates (including newly signed Panther Josh McFadden) for the lead in scoring.
McFarland spent 12 more games with the Wolves to start the 10-11 OHL season, where he was named an alternate captain. He was traded to Saginaw Spirit in a blockbuster deal (in OHL terms) in November, and played his first game with Spirit on December 10th against the Kingston Frontenacs. He played 37 games with the Spirit, scoring 28 points (19G/8A), placing eighth on the team.
Now in the Western Conference of the OHL, the Spirit finished first in the West Division, taking the second seed. For the first time in his short OHL career, McFarland advanced to the second round, as the Spirit defeated the Guelph Storm in six games. The Spirit season ended in the next round with a six game defeat against the Windsor Spitfires. McFarland played in all 12 games, scoring nine points (5G/4A) tying for sixth.
His final season in the OHL would be his finest yet as McFarland scored 40 points (19G/21A) in 33 games with the Spirit, battling with Panther prospect Vincent Trocheck for the team lead in scoring. McFarland was traded to the Ottawa 67's at the OHL trade deadline. He played his first game for the 67's on January 7th, four days after he was traded. His season ended on February 4th, after tearing his shoulder in a game against the Kingston Frontenacs.
In 13 games with the 67's, McFarland scored nine points (4G/5A).
McFarland is an excellent skater and knows how to play physical. The offensive talent is present in his game, and the Panthers are very confident in him (signed him to an entry level contract before the 11-12 season), but he's too inconsistent. Not helping his chances of reaching the NHL are his below average hockey sense and focus.
It has been speculated however that he tends to play better with better teammates, as evidenced by his offensive outburst when playing with Vincent Trocheck last season, and he'll certainly get improved teammates in the AHL. It's just on him to do it.