The Hurricanes will have a ton of decisions to make this coming offseason. With unrestricted free agency looming for Dougie Hamilton, Andrei Svechnikov in need of a new contract, and the Seattle expansion draft all being large topics of discussion, it’s easy to forget about some smaller storylines. One of those storylines being the impending free-agent status of Brock McGinn.
McGinn, who’s been with the organization almost 10 years now since being drafted back in 2012, is on the cusp of unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career. He avoided arbitration with a two-year deal back in 2019, and with that deal set to expire this summer, the Canes have will have a decision to make. Considering his overall body of work, I think that decision should be relatively easy.
His Value to the Team
While he doesn’t get massive recognition league-wide because of his pedestrian offensive output, I think it’s fair to say that most Caniacs realize what McGinn brings to the team. A total heart-and-soul player, his energy is essential to the group, and he does a lot of the “little things” that impact a hockey game in a variety of ways.
He’s a huge part of the team’s penalty kill, and statistically is one of the top forwards in the NHL at suppressing goals on that unit. Over each of the past two seasons, he’s led the all Canes forwards in time-on-ice shorthanded, and has even chipped in with five shorthanded goals. He’s vital to special teams in that regard, and Rod Brind’Amour clearly leans on him in that area.
McGinn is also a versatile player who can move up and down the lineup. While obviously not the most skilled player in the world, he *can* finish off plays at times and his tenacity on the forecheck routinely opens up space for his linemates. His ideal role is in the bottom-six, but he can move higher up on the depth chart if needed and is never a liability on any line.
He’s Cost Effective
Currently signed to a deal that’s paying him a $2.1 million AAV, it’s extremely difficult to see McGinn getting a substantial raise on that. His career-high is 30 points, and he’s not a guy who’s magically going to break out on the score sheet. His role is clearly defined, and he’ll remain in that price range.
The Canes do have a glut of prospects on the way, but with the team also facing contract decisions for Ryan Dzingel, Jordan Martinook and Warren Foegele this summer, I personally feel McGinn is the most essential to re-sign from the bunch. It’s unrealistic to assume prospects can fill the roles of that many departures, and now in his fifth full season with the squad, McGinn has cemented his place.
And beyond that, replacing McGinn’s contributions to the group as a whole just wouldn’t be an easy task. Not only is he dynamic with his PK abilities and his energy, but he’s also a very well-respected player in the locker room. You need players like him to win in the playoffs, and it was fitting for him to score the 2OT goal that broke the nine-year drought without the Canes winning a playoff series.
After scoring that goal, Brind’Amour had this to say about McGinn:
“He’s been great. He’s a Hurricane. He does it the way we want out of our players.” … “He doesn’t get credit, and nobody talks about him, but he’s a glue guy. We have a lot of those on our team. This time of year, those are the guys who can really be the difference.”– Rod Brind’Amour on Brock McGinn, in April 2019.
As a team continuously on the rise and striving to be a perennial contender, the importance of a player like McGinn on the team is obvious. He’s a player that RBA trusts to deploy in any situation, at any moment of any game; and that makes him an extremely valuable piece to the puzzle in Raleigh.
His Grit Is Essential
Though he’s not exactly a large specimen, McGinn’s physical presence is a massive boost for a group that lacks that specific dynamic. In the past three seasons, only Jordan Staal has delivered more hits than McGinn amongst Canes forwards, and, though he’s not necessarily considered a fighter, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty if the game calls for it.
His hustle and consistent pressure on the forecheck is a big boost to the dump-and-chase style that the team inevitably insists on. Especially with the uncertain futures of Martinook and Foegele, letting McGinn walk would seriously impact the way the Canes play overall. Their current roster and prospect group are full of small-ish “skill” players at forward, and without the tenacity of guys like McGinn, there’s predictability and a lack of balance in this group.
For a little bit of a different perspective, I asked my good friend Andrew Schnittker (@aschnitt53) of SB Nation’s Canes Country for his breakdown of McGinn:
“McGinn obviously doesn’t bring a ton of offense, but, all jokes about “first-line Brock” (no I don’t actually think he should be playing with Aho and Svechnikov) aside, I do think he brings a lot of value for this team. He’s obviously a very good penalty killer and brings a physical presence to pretty much every shift.
The biggest thing for me about McGinn is his work ethic. You know you’re getting 110% from him every time he’s on the ice. Work ethic is obviously the No. 1 element Rod Brind’Amour wants from anyone on this team, and McGinn embodies that identity, which is I’m sure why Rod is so fond of him. When you have a player like that, it can make everyone else want to work harder, and it sets a really good example for young guys coming up through the system.”– Andrew Schnittker (@aschnitt53)
Though we were in agreement on the value of McGinn’s presence to the group, Andrew was a little less certain on the need of re-signing him:
“…I’m not sure I agree it’s essential the Canes re-sign him. Perhaps on a cheaper deal than he’s [currently] on … but I certainly wouldn’t want to see a team that will be tight on cap space give more than $1 million [AAV]. I think the Canes will be in a position to give roster spots to young players like Steven Lorentz going into next year, and that could mean letting veteran bottom sixers like McGinn walk. However, given his value to the team and Brind’Amour’s affinity for him, I could see him being brought back, and, as long as the price is right, I don’t think that would be a terrible decision.”– Andrew Schnittker (@aschnitt53)
Personally, I think the value McGinn brings to the group as a whole is significantly underrated and he would be a noticeable absence if he were gone. On top of being a steady contributor in his role, his durability is key (he’s only missed two games since 2017) and is a trusted player in the team’s core. Considering the going rate for guys like him league-wide, I think his current AAV of $2.1M is very fair – for both parties – and the Canes would be crazy to not fit that into their budget moving forward.
Predicted Contract Extension: two years, $4 million total. ($2M AAV)