Jeremy McKenna’s pro career will start in Toronto.
The Summerside native signed a two-year AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies, the team announced Saturday afternoon. The right-winger, who turns 21 on April 20, finished his junior career with the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2019-20.
“After the season, I was looking for a job for next year and (this) came up,” McKenna said. “I am excited to join the Marlies and be a part of the Toronto organization … it’s one of the best organizations in hockey.”
McKenna signed a one-year AHL contract with the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames’ affiliate, in July. Stockton reassigned him to the ECHL and McKenna decided to return the Wildcats and chase a Memorial Cup.
McKenna walked away from a pro deal, betting on his own abilities to earn another contract.
He was right.
“That comes with all the hard work and all the extra time I spent this year working on my game,” McKenna said. “I think I really rounded my game out.”
Imagine drafting 85 players ahead of @pipesmac12 in the 2015 @QMJHL draft. Anyone who knows how hard this kid works isn’t one bit surprised that he’d go on to lead that whole draft class in scoring. Keep proving em wrong 12 https://t.co/DsmdCOb05Q— Ryne MacIsaac (@RynoMac13) April 4, 2020
The five-foot-10, 185-pound right-winger was eighth in league scoring with 82 points (40 goals and 42 assists) in 57 games this season.
The Wildcats loaded up during the trade period and were one of the league’s top teams.
McKenna remembers coming home after their last game of the season – a 3-0 victory on home ice over the Cape Breton Eagles – on March 11 and hearing the NBA season had been halted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain). The QMJHL later cancelled the regular season and then the playoffs, ending the junior career of McKenna and 53 other overage players in the 18-team league.
McKenna said he understands the situation is much bigger than hockey right now but wondered what could have been.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “I definitely don't see a team in the Q beating us in a seven-game series. … We had a great team.”
McKenna said he appreciated playing his four-year junior career with one organization and will cherish the memories made during his time in the Hub City. He lived through a lean year in Moncton when the Wildcats went 14-51-2-1 in 2016-17 during McKenna’s rookie year. The Wildcats (50-13-1-0) were second in the league when the season was cancelled in March and had recently won 16 straigth games.
“I was there for the whole cycle of major junior,” McKenna said. “I was on the worst team in Canada and on the best team in Canada. Not a lot of people can say that.”
McKenna said Toronto has followed his junior career and the two sides had a meeting in September. The Summerside sniper said he doesn’t have friends currently playing in their system, but he is looking forward to getting to know his new teammates.
“It’s a new journey and a new chapter in my life,” he said.
Due to COVID-19 the next steps, as far as camps go, are up in the air.
“I’ll be ready whenever the call comes,” McKenna said.
By the numbers
A look at Jeremy McKenna’s career statistics with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats.
Season GP G A Pts.
2016-17 66 16 10 26
2017-18 68 36 41 77
2018-19 68 45 52 97
2019-20 57 40 42 82
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