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Brock McGinn’s starting point for the 2016-17 season
After step-wise development that saw Brock McGinn play two seasons in Canadian juniors and a full season in the AHL before getting his first taste of NHL action, McGinn received his first chance as an NHL call up during the 2015-16 season. His NHL debut was nothing short of magnificent when he scored a goal on his first shift and finished the game with a goal and an assist playing on the Hurricanes’ top line. But he was pointless in his next 5 games and found his way down the lineup and into a depth role. In 21 games at the NHL level in 2015-16 McGinn would finish with only 3 goals and a lone assist (so only 2 more points after the big debut) and like everyone else who tried to help fill out the fourth line in 2015-16, he would struggle to help keep the puck out of the Hurricanes’ net when he was on the ice. He was a minus 14 in only 21 games. But along the way, McGinn did collect his first batch of NHL experience that had potential to be a spring board for the 2016-17 season.
Brock McGinn’s 2016-17 season with the Carolina Hurricanes
Brock McGinn again began the season at the AHL level where he started strong as part of a top scoring line. He collected 5 goals and 3 assists in 9 games and earned a promotion to the NHL in the process. On a line initially with fellow AHL call up Derek Ryan, McGinn looked better defensively but started slow offensively. He did not register a point until he registered an assist in his eighth game at the NHL level for the 2016-17 season. McGinn brought a Nathan Gerbe-like every shift intensity that could help spark his team but continued to plod along in terms of scoring production. Then came the week. Playing on a line with Jordan Staal, McGinn exploded for 4 goals and 3 assists in a 3-game span and got his name into the NHL stars of the week in the process. The burst did not really continue, McGinn finished the season with a modest 7 goals and 16 points in 57 games for a fourth-line-ish scoring pace. He boosted his resume with his consistent energy level and physical play and also for logging some ice time on the team’s penalty kill to extend his NHL resume. But he also left one wanting more in terms of scoring.
Grading Brock McGinn
Graded as: Graded as a fourth-liner versus a top 9 two-way forward.
Grade: B+ or C depending on role. Like most of the depth forwards, what Brock McGinn earns for a grade for the 2016-17 season is largely dependent upon the role for which he is graded. If graded as a fourth-line/depth type forward, I give McGinn a B+. He plays with a consistently high motor/compete level, brings a bit of sandpaper and physical play and at least kicks in modest scoring. That skill set fits well in a traditional fourth line that is not asked to bring much in the way of scoring. But if I instead grade McGinn as a top 9 forward (which is a role he did play for parts of the 2016-17 season), his 16 points in 57 games just is not enough especially when you consider that 7 of those points came in one massive 3-game scoring binge. In McGinn’s defense, his modest 12:00 per game of ice time and almost non-existent use on the power play does hinder scoring production, but his total still could have been better.
Looking forward to 2017-18
I have Brock McGinn tagged as one of three possible players (Phil Di Giuseppe and Lee Stempniak are the other two) most likely to be lost in the expansion draft. If McGinn is not exposed and/or taken he definitely figures to compete for an NHL roster spot in training camp next fall, but I think he is on the clock to seize a position and thrive in it.
As more of the Hurricanes young prospect depth starts to arrive in Charlotte and push up toward the NHL, competition will soon intensify even for the last few forward roster slots. On the positive side of the slate, McGinn established himself as capable at the NHL level and grew his NHL experience to 78 games. And based on Peters’ general tone when asked about McGinn in interviews, I think the coach generally appreciates McGinn’s throwback style of play. On the negative side of the slate, for me he did not grade out as well defensively as the veteran depth forwards (Nordstrom and Stalberg), and he did not produce enough offensively to put himself into a higher category offensively.
If/where McGinn fits in 2017-18 could very well be a function of which direction Peters/Francis go with the fourth line. If Peters leans old school and wants experience and physical play, McGinn at least starts training camp as a front runner. If instead, Peters looks for a scoring boost from a new NHL fourth line, McGinn could find himself in a training camp dog fight with the next wave of young players some of whom could have a higher offensive ceiling than McGinn. Important to note is that McGinn is still a fairly young player himself at 23 years old. Might he leverage his experience, find a higher gear scoring-wise and establish himself as a top 9 forward who brings a physical element that the Hurricanes need more of? Or is he destined to be depth forward who ultimately gets passed by younger players?
McGinn is one of a few players whose next step could go wildly different directions. I view him as a #11-14 depth forward but also recognize the potential is there for a step up if he puts it together offensively.
What say you Canes fans?
Where do you see McGinn landing in the Hurricanes lineup to start the 2017-18 season?
Is Brock McGinn ready to leverage the experience he has gained, find a higher gear offensively and become a fixture in the top 9? Or is he destined to be an NHL depth player who is serviceable in a depth role but also likely to be bypassed in the forward pecking order as the next wave of prospects arrives?
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