There are a lot of questions surrounding the makeup of the Carolina Hurricanes’ roster as the offense moves along, with some huge-name free agents and restricted free agents that the Canes have to make some decisions on.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton is obviously stealing the headlines on that front, but a hockey team is a lot deeper than just one top-pairing defenseman and the Canes have some moves to make throughout the lineup.
One of those decisions will surround Brock McGinn, a depth forward for the Canes who isn’t the most prolific scorer but has been a gutsy, grind-it-out player for the team for quite some time now.
McGinn, who is the second-longest tenured Hurricane behind only captain Jordan Staal, is an unrestricted free agent, and Carolina’s front office will need to decide whether or not to bring back the player the organization drafted in 2012 for his seventh season with the NHL squad.
So, what does McGinn bring to the table, how highly will he be valued and should the Canes think about re-signing the Ontario native? Let’s break it down:
What Brock McGinn brings to the table
It’s no secret that McGinn isn’t going to set the scoresheet on fire, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been an incredibly valuable part of the Canes success over the past few years.
He’s got 51 goals and a smidge over 100 points during his six years with the Canes, though only two of those were full seasons for various reasons. In 2021, McGinn played in 34 of the team’s 56 games, battling injury in the back half of the regular season, scoring eight goals and contributing five assists.
None of those numbers are staggering, but McGinn contributes in other ways, most notably on the penalty kill. The Canes boasted a top-three penalty kill during the regular season in 2021, and McGinn was a huge part of that.
McGinn led all Carolina forwards with 2:09 average time on ice on the penalty kill during the regular season, grinding out those shifts all year in the same way he has done during his whole career with the Hurricanes. He also scored one shorthanded goal, the fifth of his career, for good measure.
McGinn also brings that certain grittiness to the table that’s hard to quantify, but is obvious when watching him and listening to the way his teammates and head coach Rod Brind’Amour talk about him.
“There’s one guy that I can tell you if he comes out of a game, he’s hurt,” said Brind’Amour after McGinn got injured in a win over the Dallas Stars in April. “If that guy comes out, and you saw he actually came out and came back and tried to play. There’s nobody around since I’ve been done playing that is tougher than that kid.”
But still with all that said, it’s not like McGinn is incapable of scoring. He has a 30-point season under his belt in the league, and a four-game goal streak this past season.
There’s also the factor of one “Playoff Brock McGinn,” who seems to show up in the big moments. In McGinn’s playoff career, he’s played in 34 games and has six goals and six assists. One of those is a little bit more memorable than the others.
All that to say that McGinn is a very, very good depth forward option perfectly capable of breaking out at times and contributing on both ends of the ice in the NHL.
He’s not going to put up the numbers of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas and others, but he’s still a good guy to have around.
How highly will McGinn be valued?
The issue, of course, with any impending Canes deal is the money.
McGinn’s previous contract was a two-year, $4.2 million deal with an average annual value of $2.1 million, and there’s no real reason to believe that McGinn will get much of a raise, if any, from that.
Over the past two years, in two shortened seasons for all thanks to COVID-19 and a very shortened 2021 season for McGinn with an injury added in, his offensive numbers were slightly down from the two career seasons from 2017-19 that earned him that two-year contract.
So, how highly will McGinn be valued? Probably no more than $2 million AAV, unless a team with some significant cap space loves the grit from McGinn enough to match that $2.1 million AAV or even give him a raise.
Should the Canes re-sign McGinn?
It’s a tough question, and not one with an easy answer.
On one hand, the Canes want to be saving as much cap space as possible for some top-end guys and there are cheaper bottom-line options than McGinn. On the other hand, you need to have competitive third and fourth lines in the NHL, and McGinn offers a known, gritty player that clearly has a locker-room presence for really not that much money.
If the Canes and McGinn can work out a deal, one for maybe slightly less than his previous deal, this is a move that may make sense for the Hurricanes.
But one area where there isn’t a question here is on McGinn’s side. He wants to be in Carolina.
“I want to be back here,” said McGinn in his exit interview. “I like it here. I like where this team is going. Over the last couple years, we made some big steps. It’s a good group, good core.”