John McLean, the towering NCAA Division III goalie currently participating at Canucks prospect camp, is trending.
For starters, he’s trending on social media. After this picture surfaced on Twitter last week, websites like TSN’s Bar Down and Yahoo’s Puck Daddy took notice of what could be the tallest individual to ever tend goal professionally — after wrapping a four-year collegiate career at tiny Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, the 6-foot-9 McLean played a few games for Pensacola of the Southern Professional Hockey League this spring, which paved the way for his Canucks camp invite.
And with that invite, McLean became part of another trend.
The Canucks are no doubt intrigued by McLean’s size, especially given the recent movement towards bigger goalies in the NHL — like 6-foot-7 Lightning netminder Ben Bishop, who McLean sees as something of a role model.
“I’ve never really been able to play like an NHL goalie until Ben Bishop came along,” he explained, per TSN 1040. “I’ve just kinda played my own way and used my body to my advantage.
“Just in the last couple of years with Ben Bishop and Scott Darling coming into the picture, I was able to relate to some of the goalies.”
According to the NHL.com database, four current goalies stand 6-foot-6 or taller: Bishop, Darling, Anders Lindback and Devan Dubnyk, the latter being one of three finalists for this year’s Vezina trophy.
A handful of others, like Pekka Rinne and Darcy Kuemper, are listed at 6-foot-5 — and there could be plenty more skyscrapers on the horizon, according to Bishop, the tallest goalie in NHL history.
“I don’t know if it’ll be the end of the era [of small goalies], but I think you see taller guys that can be just as athletic as the smaller guys,” Bishop said during the Stanley Cup Final. “It seems to be the way it’s trending here.
“You look at Darling, he’s 6-6, and that guy can move pretty well. You see bigger guys that can move just as well as the smaller guys, and that’s probably why teams have started going in that direction.”
McLean has a long way to go to match the likes of Bishop and Darling, but the fact he’s at an NHL prospects camp at all is telling. Most goalies with resumes boasting Div. 3 hockey and low-tier professional experience aren’t going to get this kind of chance — but then again, most goalies’ waists aren’t at the crossbar while standing, like McLean’s is.
The 25-year-old knows his time in Vancouver is a huge break for his career, and wants to make the most of it.
“I just use my size to my advantage, and try to play big,” he explained. “I’m just trying to make a name for myself right now, and play where someone wants me.”
Related: Does Bishop, the tallest goalie in NHL history, mark ‘wave of the future’ in net?