He played with the Timmins Rock during the 2018-19 season
by: Mark Pare – KitchenerToday
Players will be the first to tell you once they’re on the ice, where you were selected – or IF you were selected – becomes irrelevant.
Even if that player literally carries with him the moniker of “Mr. Irrelevant,” a term coined in the NFL to identify the last person selected in the draft.
Just ask Keegan McMullen, a Cambridge native who was taken 300th overall by the Peterborough Petes in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.
Fast forward a year and the 17-year old has an OHL player agreement signed, cracking the roster out of Petes training camp and is participating in this weekend’s Preseason Showcase in Kitchener.
He also signed off, despite reported interest from a couple NCAA Division 1 schools.
So how did he do it?
“I just put the draft behind me,” he told 570 NEWS Friday afternoon, “I was a little disappointed at where I thought I should have got drafted, and where I did. But I put in the hard work, put my head down and started grinding, ended up coming to camp and (got) a contract.”
McMullen spent his pre-draft years with the Cambridge Hawks program, nabbing 20 points in 33 games in his minor midget year in 2017-18.
In 2018-19, he played with the NOJHL’s Timmins Rock, much of that time on the team’s top line. McMullen tallied 31 points in 54 regular season games.
But it was in the postseason that he really showcased his offensive prowess, scoring nine times in nine games before the Rock bowed out to the eventual league champion Hearst Lumberjacks in seven games.
Rock head coach Corey Beer praised McMullen’s skating ability, calling it “high end,” and wasn’t shocked at him moving up the ranks to the OHL.
“You look at it from the outside, maybe it is a bit shocking that a guy drafted that late makes the club and is offered a good package from Peterborough,” he said, “But from us internally, we saw this all last year and saw his progression and obviously couldn’t be more thrilled for him.”
But speed alone isn’t what got him to the dance, says Beer. He talked up McMullen’s ability on the defensive side of the puck, as well as his ability on the penalty kill.
“He’s kind of that well-rounded player that does everything pretty well for what ever team he’s going to play for,” he said, “We thought the sky was the limit for him offensively this season.”
“It won’t be the same for a starting point for him in Peterborough, he’ll have to work his way in but I think he’s one of those rare young players that kind of does everything the right way and it’s certainly helped him when tracking down a roster spot with the Petes.”
For McMullen, he tipped his hat at the Rock organization for helping him get to this point.
Now, it’s a matter of finding his footing into a new role, a new city. And he seems eager to learn.
“Just learning from the older guys, the guys who have been in the league for a while,” he said when asked what he’s looking forward to this season, “Seeing how they go through games and stuff they do to prepare. Hopefully I can use some of that to better myself.”
And it all starts where it all began.
In his home region. A 30 minute drive from where his parents live.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” he said.
McMullen didn’t suit up for the opener of the Preseason Showcase — an 8-5 win over Saginaw — but anticipates he’ll play Saturday and Sunday against North Bay and Kitchener.