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Addison McLaren's Journey to the VHL


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It was nothing more than a footnote in sports news yesterday night when 19-year-old Addison McLaren announced on his social media accounts an intention to leave the University of Minnesota and join a VHLM team in preparation for the VHL Entry Draft, but our scouts think this player could be a sneakily good addition and late riser in the S75 draft class.

 

Born in Minneapolis, McLaren was a two-sport athlete until high school - an active, athletic kid that fell in love at an early age with both hockey and football. His natural talent and athleticism was apparent early on, but unfortunately, genetics were not on his side. McLaren was always very small - even today he's just 5'7, 155 - small for a hockey player, and even smaller for a football player.

 

McLaren went to Eden Prairie High School to play both hockey and football, but didn't make the football team as a freshman. He enjoyed a third-line role on the hockey team and established a reputation as a good skater, talented goal-scorer, and hard-working feisty forward. He played much bigger than his size, but this occasionally lead to injury issues, and he also developed a reputation for nasty stickwork as he struggled to defend himself against much bigger competition. He played in 24 games, scoring 8 goals and 14 points, but also compiling 71 penalty minutes.

 

As a sophomore, McLaren did make the Eden Prairie football team as a wide receiver. His dazzling speed and good hands made him a dangerous weapon on both offense and special teams. Four games into his high school football career, it looked like that may be his sport after all. McLaren had touchdowns of 40+ yards in each of his first four games; one receiving, one rushing, and two on kick returns. On the opening kickoff of his fifth game, McLaren was hit low on his way out of bounds after a 47-yard return and felt his knee pop. It was a catastrophic injury that kept him out the remainder of football season, and also the vast majority of the hockey season. Working hard to rehab his injury, McLaren managed to get back into game shape for the last two weeks of the hockey season, and he opted to end his football career there and focus on hockey for his final two years of high school. He got back in time to play in 4 games, scoring 3 goals.

 

Finally, it was his turn to catch a break, and when Eden Prairie's senior left winger was injured early in the 2017-18 season, McLaren was bumped up to the top line, where he immediately exploded. In the season's final 14 games, he scored 21 goals and 30 points, ending the year with totals of 25 goals, 39 points, and 62 PIM in 21 games. Then, in his senior year, McLaren was a finalist for Minnesota High School Player of the Year, while earning attention from many high-ranking NCAA programs and leading Eden Prairie to a State Championship. He lead the state with 35 goals and finished with 55 points in 25 games.

 

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McLaren takes the puck to the net playing for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

 

McLaren committed to the University of Minnesota after graduating. After starting with a small role and producing 5 goals and 8 points in his first 20 games, McLaren worked his way into a second-line role late in the season and doubled his production, with 6 more goals and 8 more points, in the final 11. Poised to move into a full-time top-six role for the 2020-21 season, McLaren started hearing the whispers of interest from the Victory Hockey League. Shortly thereafter, he announced that it was his intention to pursue a VHL career.

 

McLaren's strengths are obvious when you watch him play: he's athletically gifted and a good skater who possesses a lethal wrist shot and loves to use it. He's physical, feisty for his size and will not hesitate to stick up for his teammates. He's also a surprisingly good two-way player for his size. He has a high hockey IQ and knows how to get to scoring areas and find open space.

 

On the downside, McLaren can sometimes get tunnel vision and not use his linemates as well as he should. He has a bit of a reputation for dirty stickwork and crossing the line with his physical play, and tends to rack up high penalty minute totals, and while he is more than willing to engage in the physical side of the game, he can be muscled off the puck easily by bigger, stronger defenders. He has battled nagging injuries during his career, though he hasn't had any serious ones since tearing his ACL playing football in high school.

 

According to reports, McLaren has already been reached out to by several VHLM teams, and he plans to carefully consider his options and make a decision in the coming days.

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