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Jay McClement’s starting point for the 2016-17 season
Maybe simply because he was still under contract, Jay McClement was the lone survivor from the group of veterans who manned the fourth line and struggled doing so in 2015-16. Nathan Gerbe, Riley Nash, Brad Malone and Chris Terry were all allowed to leave when their contracts expired leaving Jay McClement and a couple openings around him. Despite logging only 11:36 of ice time in 2015-16, McClement finished second lowest among Canes forwards with a minus 17 (Lindholm was lowest on the team at minus 23). Recognizing that we are not supposed to talk about plus/minus, I will stand up and that from watching the entirety of the Hurricanes’ 2015-16 season that the statistic was representative of the struggles that the fourth line had regardless of who was on the wings. McClement had 3 goals and 11 assists in 77 games and does deserve credit for his regular role on the team’s strong penalty kill.
Jay McClement’s 2016-17 season with the Carolina Hurricanes
With reinforcements to man the wings, the fourth line centered by Jay McClement started and finished the 2016-17 better. I think the key was when a solid combination of speed and defensiv acumen in the form of Viktor Stalberg and Joakim Nordstrom made for a strong forecheck that kept the line and Jay McClement from needing to constantly defend against speed coming through the neutral zone. McClement was again a regular on a strong penalty kill and did his part in a nice burst of scoring and higher-level play by the fourth line when the team needed it in late November and early December. McClement was sidelined by injury in March and finished the season with 5 goals and 3 assists and an improved minus 8 in 65 games played. To be noted, McClement continued in his run as an understated leader who was good in the locker room, put the team first and led by example.
Grading Jay McClement
Graded as: Fourth-line forward and penalty killer.
Grade: B-. McClement improved upon a tough 2015-16 season and straddled the line between B- and C+. The fourth line that he centered mostly got back to at least being decent defensively and not giving up far too many scoring chances. But in today’s NHL that sees good teams with scoring depth across four lines, it is hard not to want a bit more out of the C4 slot that McClement occupied. In the end, McClement gets credit for being a secondary leader by example, for his role on the penalty kill and for filling a depth role. He gets downgraded for being limited offensively even for his role and just not being a difference-maker very often.
Looking forward to 2017-18
With his contract expiring, Jay McClement is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. With the Hurricanes forward depth maturing, I would be surprised to see McClement re-signed. At age 34, he will likely be looking for a depth forward role with another team.
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