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Carolina Hurricanes’ Brock McGinn: Talent or Luck?


Carolina fans should temper their expectations of Brock McGinn.

Over the last four games, Brock McGinn seemed to emerge as a legitimate scoring threat in the National Hockey League. During that span, he tallied four goals and seven points. The recent performance of the Hurricanes’ left winger earned him the NHL’s third star of the week. However, Carolina fans should not expect the Ontario native to keep up his current rate of production. For McGinn, regression to the mean is inevitable.

For the last two years, the former second-round pick has bounced around between Charlotte and Raleigh. McGinn will be playing his 50th NHL game tonight when Pittsburgh visits PNC Arena. With 62 points in 132 games, McGinn has proven that he can score at the AHL level. However, it has not yet translated to the NHL. He got his first call-up this season on November 12th and did not record his first point until December 3rd against the New York Rangers. Before his three-game scoring flurry, McGinn was scoring a measly .21 points per game, third worst among forwards on the Hurricanes.

McGinn is not a finesse player by any stretch of the imagination; he builds his game around physicality. He scores the majority of his points in the dirty areas and often looks for the big hit. Despite playing less than half his team’s games this season, McGinn is ninth on the team in hits with thirty-five. He is a perfect third line checking winger but will never be a true scoring threat. 

"“The youngest of three hockey-playing brothers, McGinn is small (6’0, 185 pounds) but feisty. McGinn is a capable scorer but makes his biggest mark by playing on the edge physically. That has led to some suspensions in both junior and the AHL, but he brings an aggression that Carolina’s forward lines have sorely lacked in recent years.” – Hockey’s Future"

McGinn’s recent surge can be attributed to Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm.

Playing with Lindholm and Staal has boosted McGinn’s production. However, the opposite is also true. Lindholm and Staal’s production has taken a nosedive since being paired with McGinn. In the 103 minutes Staal has centered McGinn and Lindholm, the trio generated 12.73 scoring chances per 60 minutes (SCF60). However, when paired with Joakim Nordstrom, Teuvo Teravainen, or Sebastian Aho — Staal and Lindholm’s average SCF60 is well over eighteen. Check out the heat maps by HockeyViz.com below. On the left is shot attempts when McGinn is on the ice. The chart on the right is when he is not playing. It is obvious that the Hurricanes are worse offensively when McGinn is on the ice. 

During his recent point streak, McGinn had a 44 shooting percentage (S%) . For perspective, his S% for the first 23 games of the season was a paltry three percent.  Of course, a 44 S% is not sustainable and suggests that McGinn was merely in the right place at the right time. The graph of the left winger’s rolling ten-game shooting percentage is posted below. Notice the abrupt spike in shooting percentage between January 8th and January 15th. This spike in production is an anomaly as McGinn’s S% is already starting to revert back to the norm after Carolina’s loss at Columbus.

Brock McGinn is not the most talented player on the Carolina Hurricanes and will never evolve into an elite scoring talent. However, he plays his role as a hard-nosed left winger well and is doing everything Carolina needs him to do. Going forward, fans should expect to see the McGinn that delivers hits, not the one that delivers goals.