Pittsburgh Penguins: Jared McCann Coming Into His Own As Middle-Six Shooter
|Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports|
We continue our breakdown of the Pittsburgh Penguins 2019-2020 season with individual player recaps. Today will feature Jared McCann.
Another player that General Manager Jim Rutherford has acquired through trade, former first round pick Jared McCann was struggling to find his place in the NHL before arriving in Pittsburgh.
Now as a member of the Penguins, McCann is finding his way as a two-way, middle-six player and with his play in a season and a half in Pittsburgh, earned himself a new contract extension this offseason. The deal is for two years and is worth $5.88 million ($2.94 AAV).
It’s certainly a good deal for both sides, as Pittsburgh gets a solid two-way player capable of playing both center and wing, and McCann gets a chance to build on the 25 goals he’s scored over the 98 games in a Penguins jersey.
He registered just 27 goals in his first 212 games in the NHL before being traded to the Penguins.
Originally drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round back in 2014, McCann was later traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Erik Gudbranson. He was later joined by Nick Bjugstad in the trade that sent them to Pittsburgh in exchange for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheehan and three draft picks.
Upon arriving in Pittsburgh, McCann scored 11 goals in 32 games to finish out the season, playing anywhere from the third-line center, to on Sidney Crosby’s wing. Versatility has been one of his biggest assets.
Last season, McCann posted career high in goals, assists and points. He registered 35 points (14 G, 21 A) in 66 games played.
McCann: By The Numbers
The former first round pick, McCann, has proved to be in possession of an above-average shot, and was among the better forwards at limiting his opposition’s scoring opportunities.
McCann wasn’t shy about firing the puck at the net, finishing as one of the highest volume shooters in the league last year at 5v5.
The shooting percentage was below average, but the sheer volume of shots he took allowed him to finish right at the 70th percentile in scoring rate.
His expected scoring rate wasn’t right up with his actual G/60, but it wasn’t too far off, so despite the poor shooting percentage, don’t expect too much of a drop off going forward.
The puck was safe on his stick, as he didn’t turn the puck over much, and did a fair job at creating turnovers.
His expected goals for per 60 (xGF/60) was way below average, but he did so good at limiting his opponent, that his overall expected goal share (xGF%) was in the 59th percentile.
Offensively, McCann was a force as a third line forward, with his GF/60, GF% and on-ice shooting percentage all ranking highly around the league.
His possession numbers weren’t great but that didn’t stop him from driving scoring for the Penguins when he was on the ice.
Now on a two-year bridge deal, McCann has a couple of seasons to earn himself a long-term contract with the Penguins. If he continues his current progression he shouldn’t have a problem with that.
His versatility allows the Penguins to take an extra look at multiple different lineup possibilities for the team’s bottom-six. He could play center, but they could find even better value by keeping him on the wing and potentially moving up Teddy Blueger and Brandon Tanev to round out the third line.
Blueger and Tanev were two-third of the team’s shutdown fourth line last season, and with McCann’s strong defensive play last season, he wouldn’t be out of place. The only downfall would be the lack of offense that Blueger and Tanev produced last season.it
While McCann is a high-volume shooter, meaning he’d be taking the majority of the shots on the ice, he hasn’t been much of a playmaker in his career, so it’s not likely that he could boost the lack of offensive production from Blueger and Tanev.
However the lines end up playing out, the 24-year old McCann is set to be a big piece in the Penguins’ upcoming season. Everyone knows what they are going to get out of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but the overall team’s success will ultimately come down to how much contributions they get from the rest of the lineup.
What did you think of McCann’s 2019-2020 season? Where best does he fit into the lineup for next season? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the top of the page, and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy and @SportBlogMurphy.