Red Wings: Jared McIssac Gets His Shot with Grand Rapids

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Jared McIsaac poses after being selected thirty-sixth overall by the Detriot Red Wings during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Jared McIsaac poses after being selected thirty-sixth overall by the Detriot Red Wings during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Defenseman Jared McIsaac was drafted out of the QMJHL by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the 2018 draft. After recovering from a major injury, McIsaac will finally see the ice again, this time in Grand Rapids. Will McIsaac get his pro hockey career back on track with the Griffins?

From One of the Top Red Wings Prospects to IR

When McIsaac fell to the 36th spot, it was a pleasant surprise for Detroit. Projected by many as a first rounder, the Red Wings got a sneaky good prospect early in the second. The year he was drafted, McIsaac was averaging .72 points per game with the Halifax Mooseheads – as a defenseman. The year after, he kicked up his production to 1.17 points per game. His trajectory continued to sore after rounding out nearly every aspect of his game and increasing his consistency.

However, heading into the 2019-20 season, McIsaac underwent surgery on his right shoulder. He played only 28 games in the QMHL that year, dipping down to .68 ppg. McIsaac wrapped up 2020 by winning a gold medal with Team Canada, but again, was relatively limited in play.

Assigned to HPK in Finland, McIsaac had a chance to realign his trajectory in Europe, something we’ve seen a handful of Red Wings prospects do this season. However, on his first shift with HPK, McIsaac reaggravated his shoulder, knocking him out for the rest of the Finnish season. He underwent yet another surgery on the right shoulder soon after.

First Time In the AHL

Now, over six months later, McIsaac will get his first chance on Detroit’s minor league team, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

This comes at a perfect time for a defenseman in Detroit’s pipeline. After the Red Wings  shipped off Jon Merrill and Patrik Nemeth, a couple Griffins were asked to fill those spots – Gustav Lindstom and Dennis Cholowski. With those two out of Grand Rapids,  there’s more than enough room on the roster for McIsaac. He has a chance to be one of the top players on the Griffins blue line.

Getting Back On Track

Becoming one of those top players will be the biggest challenge for McIsaac. It has been a year since his last major stint on a team, and more than two years since his last full season. It’ll also be the strongest competition he’s faced to this point – the AHL is a stronger league than the QMJHL.

However, McIsaac still posses all the talent to put the pieces back together. Luckily, with his injury being to his upper body, one of his strongest assets remains untouched – his skating.  McIsaac wasn’t drafted because of his physicality or size – he was drafted as a fast, surprisingly skilled two-way defenseman. The kind that an opposing squad needs to watch in the defensive and offensive zones.

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Keep an eye on McIsaac’s debut in Grand Rapids. With the amount of skill this young defenseman possesses, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a Jonatan Berggren-like rebound from injury.