Canucks Army Year in Review: Jared McCann

Jared McCann wasn’t expected to make the Vancouver Canucks opening night roster but defied the odds and conventional wisdom to carve out a prescribed role in the bottom-six, playing sheltered minutes by and large.

Though it mightn’t have been in McCann’s best interests — physically undeveloped as he was and may still be — it served the Canucks short-term goals, as their depleted centre depth called for help in whatever form they could find it. The need for McCann evolved from that of the fourth-line anchor to first-line fill-in by December, with the 19-year-old rookie pivot taking his turn in the injured Henrik Sedin’s spot between Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen. Then back again to the fourth and occasionally the press box.

It was a season of ups and downs, but on the whole highly productive given the circumstances. There were moments where McCann flashed an offensive knack, particularly with his hard wrist shot that caught NHL goaltenders off guard on more than one occasion. Let’s see the body of work as a whole, though, on the other side of the jump.

HERO Chart:

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Crunching Numbers:

Boxcars:

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As you can see, McCann played a nice number of games in his rookie season. McCann crossed the games played threshold for starting his entry-level contract and knocking a season off before his unrestricted free agency. If McCann’s production was prorated to account for an entire 82 game season, the number is closer to 21 points, which is a pretty excellent mark for a 19-year-old, first-year centre on a fourth line. Then again, so much of this was from his hot month of October.

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Corsi:

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Young players and rookies in particular are known to struggle as possession players. Likely the byproduct of an undeveloped defensive game. Though McCann’s minutes were soft and sheltered as they come, it’s encouraging all the same that he had a net positive impact on the Canucks ability to control the shot attempt differential.

Goal based:

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McCann’s underlying goal data isn’t spectacular in any sense of the word — neither good nor bad. Believe it or not, that’s kind of a good thing. Encouraging at the very least. Digging a little deeper, though, I found that McCann is sporting a GF%RelTM of 3%, which indicates that he’s helping his linemates drive goal differential on the whole.

Scoring chances:

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McCann could stand to improve upon tilting the scoring chance needle for his team. Then again, I’m willing to cut McCann a tonne of slack, given that his two primary linemates were Derek Dorsett and Alexandre Burrows. 

Conclusion

The Canucks have an excellent piece to build with in McCann. It’s becoming increasingly clear that McCann’s offensive punch is considerably more potent than we gave him credit for at the draft and it’s hardly at the expense of his defensive game, which was passable in his first year as a professional hockey player.

McCann likely would’ve been best served by spending last season in the AHL, but that just wasn’t a possibility the Canucks could explore. It’s one they can explore next season, though, and one they might even be forced to look into, as the acquisition of Markus Granlund at last year’s trade deadline has added another body to the Canucks already heavy centre group. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but I wonder if that drives somewhat of a wedge between the Canucks and their prized prospect.

Of course, there’s also the possibility the Canucks cash in on McCann’s high value and part ways with him to help develop their blue line. Others have mused on the possibility and I certainly wouldn’t rule it out myself. Whatever the case, it appears as though the next chapter to McCann’s career as a Canuck might not unfold in Vancouver. Let’s just hope that he can, at some point, build on this most encouraging introduction.

  • Riley Miner

    While I wouldn’t be opposed to trading any of the young Canuck players in the right trade, McCann looks more like a top 15 talent right now than a late first rounder, in my opinion.

    Unlike Horvat and Virtanen, he was not physically ready for the NHL as a 19 year old.

    Which makes his season more impressive.

    But if he starts in the NHL next year, he would be best served playing on the wing for a year or two until he matures.

  • Riley Miner

    Agreed to much talent to trade away. He wasn’t used in proper situations, sat to much at times as he wasn’t able to handle the physical rigors of a whole season. He should of went back to junior hockey were he could play more. Really don’t want to trade him that could be a huge mistake needs a yr in ahl likely.

  • Riley Miner

    It would be amazing if McCann could eventually develop into a first line center, potentially between DuBois or Tkachuk and Boeser. Brendan Morrison showed that you don’t have to be a superstar to center a first line, especially between two powerful wingers. McCann’s pedigree is better than Morrison’s, who was a late round pick.

    • Riley Miner

      I think he’s got the ability to become a 1C in the S Koivu/Brassard mould–more of a playmaker, but with good hockey IQ and an ability to maximize his own scoring abilities. He probably won’t make 30 goals, but 55+ points per season is a reasonable expectation at his maturity (which is, realistically, the bottom tier of 1C performance in today’s NHL), unless he’s got some real talent at wing to ride on (*cough* tradeupforPuljujarvi *cough*).

    • Riley Miner

      Correction: Brendan Morrison was drafted 39th overall in ’93. He didn’t play in the NHL until he was 22, though, and he spent most of that year in the minors.

      • Riley Miner

        Dubois is a natural C. If we did draft him, McCann would either be moved to wing (probably replacing Sven in your lineup) or flogged for a 21-30 pick or an NHL-ready 3-4 D prospect. In the latter situation, I think I’d like Mike Paliotta from CBJ, plus a promise to make the Torts pick this year’s #34, giving us back-to-back picks at the top of round 2.

        Maybe we could get both Benson *and* Day…

        • Riley Miner

          Why can’t we have both? Since when did this become an one-or-the-other type situation?
          And why are we getting rid of Sven, a young skill player with upside?

          Did we not learn from last season that there is no such thing as having too many NHL centers?

          • Riley Miner

            I listed keeping both McCann & Dubois as my first option, so I obviously don’t disagree with the idea of keeping both.

            We’re getting rid of Sven because he’s not got the skillset to be a checking LW, Hank & Dank aren’t likely going anywhere (pending career-ending injury) until they hit 38+, McCann would be a better player in the 2L slot, and there’s no way Sven clears waivers.

            However, I spent the most characters musing about what we could get for McCann, because he’s the one name I keep seeing bandied about when pundits discuss Vancouver trading F strength for D upgrades. Smoke, fire, etc.

            Personally, as I’ve stated elsewhere, I’d prefer to keep McCann as our future 1C (and Sven) and trade assets in hand + 2016 #5 for the #3.

  • Gino's 3rd Cousin

    Maybe we’ve already got Henrik’s heir apparent? The kid flashed some big league skill, given a couple years development maybe he fits in nicely as the 1LC…

    If he’s with the Canucks next year, I’d like to see him as a top-9 winger, taking the odd draw. Best case scenario for both him and the organization is he spends next year as Utica’s 1LC, getting tapped on the shoulder 18+ minutes a night in all situations; he can still be at the top of the injury call-up list, when a top-9 skill player gets banged up…

  • Riley Miner

    Please please please don’t trade away McCann. Once this kid gains some weight you’ll really see him shine. He has a nasty edge none of our other centres have and once he develops he’s going to be a gem.

    • Gino's 3rd Cousin

      When he admirably tried to fight back against Getzlaf I gained a lot of respect for the kid. He’s got some of the fighting Irish in him. He can also rifle the puck. He just needs some time.

  • Gino's 3rd Cousin

    I don’t see the Canucks trading McCann….

    They have a guy that would fit nicely into a 2nd or 3rd line center that will play D and score in the mold of Kesler. Grandlund won’t do that. He is a 4th line center. I don’t see any reason McCann wouldn’t go to Utica for a portion of the season. He understands that it was NHL or Juniors last year. Assuming a negative reaction to improvement is not something that should be done.

    Playing more minutes in the AHL is better than sitting on a bench. Guys want to play.

  • Gino's 3rd Cousin

    The kids got plenty of heart and a darn good wrist shot. But he is redundant with our small passive forward group.

    I would give him up if we could move up to the 3rd pick alrighty.not going to happen.

    Hindsight is easy but Garrison would look awful good on our ailing powerplay. Needless to say we should have kept him instead of hamhuis. He is younger/bigger, more gifted offensively and defensively.

  • Dirty30

    If you want McCann as a centre he would benefit from a season b the AHL taking a ton of face offs and shifts on the PP. if he knows this is for his development it shouldn’t drive any wedges.

    As for the size of the team, simply end the Vey experiment.

    Rodin and Granlund coming in, Sutter coming back, so put together some lines and have McCann and Gaunce as your call ups.

    I don’t think Manny Malholtra ever scared atone with his size or attitude but he went out there and won up to 60% of face offs on a good run! If Jared can develop that skill with some toughness and size he would more than hold his own out there.

  • NHLnymous

    Jared McCann doesn’t necessarily need to develop into a physical player (ex. Morrison, Ribeiro), he just needs to develop. Unfortunately Canucks have shown they don’t have a clear plan for him, and he most likely will be bounced around their system during his next 2-3 development years. Sell him on full time AHL duty to hone his skills until a top 6 role opens up, or trade him now and watch him grow into a 50pt player elsewhere.

    • Riley Miner

      I think it’s a bit premature to say, “Canucks have shown they don’t have a clear plan for him,” until we see what is done with him this year. Last year they were handcuffed because they couldn’t play him in the AHL due to age restrictions (I think it’s about time to change this rule – old enough for the NHL but not for the AHL is ridiculous) and playing him in the minors probably was equally as limiting as playing him in the NHL. As others have said on here, given the right development he could very well mature into a #1 centre on this team if he is flanked by the right wingers. He needs to play in the AHL to both improve his skills and allow his body to mature in size and strength.

      Really, it all comes down to what the Canucks do at the draft. If they can get Dubois as a centre, then yes, McCann becomes more of a question mark as an asset. If they draft a winger or defenceman then things are considerably different. Without a replacement for what he potentially could be, I for one hope they don’t trade him.