In anticipation of the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural season, we at The Hockey Writers will be doing a deep dive on each player projected to be on the opening night roster. This installment of the series focuses on Jared McCann, who the Kraken selected from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
2020-21 Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
2020-21 Season: 43 Games Played, 14 Goals, 18 Assists, 32 Points
Type of Acquisition: Expansion Draft
Just days before the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, the Maple Leafs traded prospect Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft for McCann of the Pittsburgh Penguins to ensure they wouldn’t be losing a good player to the Kraken for nothing. Many fans originally speculated Seattle would select Alexander Kerfoot from Toronto, but when news broke that McCann was being shipped to the Maple Leafs, it opened up an opportunity for the NHL’s newest franchise to add another promising, young forward to their inaugural roster.
Expansion Draft Drama for the Kraken, Maple Leafs and Penguins
The Penguins were unlikely to protect McCann from the expansion draft, which would have made him an almost sure-fire pick for the Kraken. The situation really turned into a win-win-win for Seattle, Toronto and Pittsburgh. The Kraken managed to pick McCann from the Maple Leafs and fan-favorite Brandon Tanev from the Penguins, the Maple Leafs kept all of their players from last season who are still under contract, and the Penguins picked up a prospect and draft pick as compensation for the inevitable loss of McCann.
These kinds of trades don’t just happen with any kind of player. McCann is coming off his best NHL season to date in terms of points per game (P/G), recording 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 43 games. At 0.74 P/G, he also set career-highs with seven power-play goals, 10 power-play points and a plus-minus rating of +17. In a normal 82-game season, those tallies would most likely be even higher. Pittsburgh will surely miss his presence as he continues to bloom into a strong NHL forward with exceptional shooting and playmaking abilities.
Reviewing McCann’s Career with the Canucks, Panthers and Penguins
McCann’s journey in the NHL began when he was drafted 24th overall by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. In 2015-16, he made his debut with Vancouver, playing in 69 games en route to an 18-point (nine goals, nine assists) rookie season. At the end of the season, the Canucks traded him, along with second-and fourth-round picks in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Erik Gudbranson and a 2016 fifth-round pick.
McCann’s stay in Florida lasted just under three seasons, where he posted 53 points (18 goals, 35 assists) in 143 games. During his final season with the Panthers, he recorded a shooting percentage (SH%) of 10.26 and faceoff percentage (FO%) of 45.61, both career-highs for him at the time. He took the next big step in his career when he and Nick Bjugstad were traded to the Penguins in exchange for Derrick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, a 2019 second-round pick, and two 2019 fourth-round picks on Feb. 1, 2019.
The positive impact of McCann was felt immediately in Pittsburgh. In 32 games to finish off the 2018-19 season, he posted a 15.28 SH% and 47.7 FO%, breaking his previous career-highs set earlier in the season with Florida. His success continued into the following season when he posted his first 30-plus point season, scoring 14 goals and 21 assists in 66 games. In 2020-21, despite playing 23 fewer games than the season before, he matched his previous 14 goals and added 18 assists for 32 points in 43 games.
It appears the Kraken have nabbed McCann at the perfect time in his career, just as he is entering his prime years. He joins Seattle with 353 games of NHL experience and is able to play wherever head coach Dave Hakstol needs him, whether that be at center or on the wing. Every season, McCann has shown significant improvement. With an exciting opportunity in joining the NHL’s newest expansion franchise, Kraken fans should expect the same of him when he puts on the team’s uniform for the upcoming season. Don’t be surprised if McCann makes a big name for himself in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Tom Pepper is a Seattle Kraken columnist and show host at The Hockey Writers. He joined THW in June 2020 and has been writing about the Kraken since June 2021. He also hosts the THW What’s Kraken show every week on iHeartRadio. Outside of THW, he is an undergraduate student at Ryerson University and covers U Sports hockey at the Eyeopener student newspaper. Follow him on Twitter at @TomPepper.