The Toronto Maple Leafs have jumped in ahead of the expansion draft and begun to reshape their roster for the upcoming season.
Kyle Dubas called on another familiar face, this time trading for Jared McCann in exchange for Filip Hallander and a seventh-round draft pick. The 25-year-old McCann was originally drafted by Kyle Dubas in the OHL draft when he managed the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. After a successful showing in the OHL, McCann was selected in the first round in 2014 by the Vancouver Canucks at 24th overall.
McCann was kept on the roster as a 19-year-old in Vancouver, something he mentioned years later as a mistake to The Athletic’s Thomas Drance.
Looking back at it, McCann recognizes that he was rushed a bit when the Canucks kept him on their roster for his age-19 season.
“Hockey-wise, I think, I was ready for that part, but off the ice, I made a lot of mistakes,” McCann told The Armies on Wednesday morning.
“There were a lot of relationships that I wish I’d taken differently … but I mean I was a young immature kid,” McCann continued. “A lot of guys go through that, but obviously it was different because I was traded after my first year, so I wasn’t able to mend those relationships. Show them that they don’t know what kind of person I am.”
Ultimately McCann turned some of those struggles into a long hard look in the mirror, which has benefited him in the long run.“I had to mature pretty quickly,” McCann says. “Being traded as a 19-year-old, you have to take a step back and think, ‘Oh wow, what did I do wrong?’
“Then I went to Florida and there was a lot of change and turnover and I felt it was hard for me to create relationships with people, and sometimes that’s how hockey goes, you can’t think your job is secure.
In Pittsburgh, McCann really found his footing in the league. The 6’0, 190-pound left shot played primarily as a center this season, especially with Evgeny Malkin missing time, until the Penguins acquired Jeff Carter at the deadline. McCann posted career highs in goals per game, assists per game, and points per game as he shot a career-high 15.1% (his career average is 9.6%). McCann also had strong underlying numbers driving play while finishing second in the NHL in Evolving Hockey‘s goals above replacement (GAR) behind only Connor McDavid, something Kevin Papetti noted earlier this offseason.
While his offensive numbers were a little inflated overall (he played to a 61-point pace), McCann is a versatile player who the Leafs could hypothetically use all over their roster. It’s too early to say exactly where he might play without knowing the full picture of offseason moves, but you could easily make an argument for him to center the third line or play left wing on either of their top-six forward lines.
The question, in part, will be where will his point production settles into — he makes $2.9M this season (before becoming an RFA) — along with what are the ramifications for the expansion draft as well as what, if anything, Filip Hallander will become.
Hallander was part of the Kasperi Kapanen trade and just turned 21 years old. He’s coming off a solid season in the SHL where he put up 13 goals and 24 points in 51 games. At this point, he’s a reasonable prospect with a decent chance to make the league.
Of course, we also have to consider the expansion draft. While it is entirely possible the Leafs still elect to keep any eight players plus a goalie — they didn’t give up a ton for McCann — the bet now is that they switch to protecting seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie. This would now mean the usual four of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares, plus Jared McCann, plus likely Alex Kerfoot and possibly Jason Spezza or even Pierre Engvall. It wouldn’t matter either way to Seattle — at that point, the decision would clearly be between selecting Travis Dermott or Justin Holl.
Going into today, the rumour was that Seattle would select Alex Kerfoot, so in a roundabout way, this sets them up in a more logical manner to adjust their strategy and keep Kerfoot while adding McCann.
All in all, even if McCann doesn’t match last season’s production, he’s still a useful, versatile player who has played center and wing, averaged around 14 minutes per night for his career, and produced as a middle-six forward. At $2.9M, that’s decent value for a team that has lacked quality scoring depth for years.
Jared McCann Scouting Report
via McKeen’s Yearbook, 2020
Versatile forward able contributes in a multitude of ways .. heavy shot that he can beat goalies with from distance .. floats in and out of the high slot to look for tips, quick shot opportunities and openings .. uses his frame to hold the puck out wide and move goalies around before snapping it by .. gets ice time on the power play and penalty kill as a result of reliability.
via McKeen’s Yearbook, 2019
Crafty and mobile pivot, skates well in open ice and operates effectively in tight spaces .. smooth, effortless and agile skater who is extremely powerful in all directions .. not afraid to cut inside the offensive zone .. capable of elegant cuts and turns .. lethal from in close with a sharp wrist shot – aims to pick corners and catch small openings, which are less frequent than in developmental leagues .. a gifted passer with sharp on-ice awareness and peripheral vision .. quick release, short windup .. attentive to details and play away from the puck .. competitive and possession-driven, setting tempo with the puck, and diligently attempts to retrieves it .. can separate himself from coverage .. slick stickhandler .. naturally fits as the F3 high in the offen- sive zone and can jump in and out of the cycle – generally adept support player .. can stray from structure in effort to change complexion, and gets into positional trouble.