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2021-22 Season in Review: Brock McGinn

Probably unfair, but the Brandon Tanev replacement didn’t excite as much as Tanev this season...

Vegas Golden Knights v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Vitals

Player: Brock McGinn
Born: February 2, 1994 (age-27/28 season)
Height: 6’0
Weight: 187 pounds
Birthplace: Fergus, Ontario
Shoots: Left
Draft: Second round, 2012 (No. 47 overall, by the Carolina Hurricanes)

2020-21 Statistics: 64 games, 12 goals, 10 assists, 22 points, 14 penalty minutes

Contract Status: Fresh after losing Brandon Tanev to the expansion draft, the Penguins went to free agency and gave McGinn a very similar contract ($2.75 million for four years) compared to what Tanev left with (four years remaining with a $3.5 million cap hit), which leaves three more seasons for McGinn at his market rate salary that will expire after the 2024-25 season, when he will be 31 years old.

Fun facts: Became a linemate this season at times with Teddy Blueger, who was picked five spots after McGinn in the city they were drafted in (Pittsburgh)...McGinn loved home cookin’, scoring 15 points (9G+6A) in 34 games at PPG Paints Arena this season, he only tallied seven points (3G+4A) in 30 road contests...McGinn averaged 15:00 TOI this season, just barely setting a new career-high mark (14:59 last season in Carolina)...

History

2020-21 Canes Country Performance Review: 57% B Grade, 31% C
2019-20 Canes Country Performance Review: 43% B Grade, 43% C

With this being McGinn’s first season in Pittsburgh, we have to look to our SBN sister site at Canes Country for the Carolina portion of McGinn’s career.

Playoffs

McGinn scored two points (1G+1A) in the same game, (3) against the Rangers and was held without a point in all six of the other playoff games.

Monthly Split

Via Yahoo

Story of the season

McGinn made a splash early on with his new team, starting the Penguin portion of his career out with four points in the first four games of the season to show off a surprising bit of offense right off the bat. It would hold up for a while too, with a start of eight goals by December 17th (29 games personally), all scored at even strength to make for a 22 goal pace well into the year, and as late in the season as early-February McGinn had tallied 10 goals in the 43 games he had played in to make for an impressive scoring pace that would drop-off mightily in the second portion of the season after he and his teammates hit a significant skid and slump in the month of February and early March.

From there, the injury and illness bug got a hold of McGinn, who missed time in January with COVID and a minor injury, and then suffered a much bigger problem when he would miss 15 games after blocking a shot that struck his right hand in March.

McGinn was able to return for eight regular season games to get ready for the playoffs, where he looked on the right track recording four points (1G+3A) in the month of April. That wasn’t a sign of things to come in the playoffs, however, with McGinn held without a point in six of the seven Pittsburgh playoff games.

Regular season 5v5 advanced stats

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 17 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.

Corsi For%: 46.1 (17th)
Goals For%: 47.3 (14th)
xGF%: 49.5 (16th)
Scoring Chance %: 46.9 (17th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 50.2 (15th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 6.55 (15th)
On-ice save%: .930 (8th)
Goals/60: 0.74 (8th)
Assists/60: 0.74 (14th)
Points/60: 1.48 (13th)

—McGinn’s numbers aren’t really bad bad, but he ranked among the lowest of his teammates in all the shot and chance based areas. That can most be chalked up to the Penguins being a very good team, and also putting McGinn in a defensive role that caused a lot of zone starts to put him in situations where he was likely to be out-shot. Through luck or assistance, goaltending was very good with McGinn on the ice, which probably isn’t much of a surprise.

Charts n’at

Almost every player can out-perform their “market value” in a cap world where player salaries are artificially deflated by the salary cap that limits how much players can make, but ironically the biggest player the Penguins signed in free agency was unable to match his salary to his “market value” last season. This is due to offensive deficiencies, especially when it came to creating assists.

The great finishing displayed in 2020-21 in Carolina (where McGinn scored 8G in just 37 games) came back down to Earth as expected this season. The last 20 or so games were difficult for McGinn to do what he has been able to do best (score some goals). Otherwise, it was an overall performance to be expected with quality defensive provided by a “ham n egg” type player.

McGinn has horrible PK stats due to yielding a ton of chances, yet his goals against were not crazy. So either goaltending was bailing him out like crazy, or there’s some level of nuance that can’t be captured by shot/chance based stats to explain why the results are good despite a seemingly poor process.

Overall though, McGinn is what he is — fairly solid but not a standout. He is surprisingly and oddly good at one-timing the puck (as we’ll see in the highlights section below).

Highlights

Here’s a pretty cool goal that looks routine enough, besides the circumstances around it... McGinn scored off a one-timer early in the first period at home against Anaheim in December. No one knew it at the time, but it would be the game’s only goal in a 1-0 Pens’ win.

McGinn’s first goal as a Penguin came against Marc-Andre Fleury on, brace yourself, another one-timer.

Here’s another little quick goal shoveled right on in for insurance against St. Louis on a Teddy Blueger feed. Blueger’s passing + McGinn’s finishing really should be better on the ice in theory than it was in execution this season.

Breakaway goal on Vasilevskiy, ever heard of him?

This goal is a fun one, coming off a broken play, but it’s always so much easier to score when the goalie gracefully slides almost all the way out of the crease.

Bottom line

McGinn had big shoes to fill, since he was essentially the spiritual successor on the team this year for the spot vacated by fan favorite Brandon Tanev. It’s a tough role for a hard-working, middle-six winger that would spend a lot of time on the PK, move around the lineup and hopefully pitch in with offense. McGinn is a lot more vanilla a player than the exciting and noticeably speedy Tanev, but that doesn’t necessarily make him less effective. It does make him less fun in some regards, which is an unfair (and mostly meaningless) criticism, but a common one just the same. McGinn is a player that isn’t necessarily exciting, but will be the classic “coach’s favorite” to do all the little things around the rink the proper way, pitch in some of the “dirty work” and have to sacrifice a hand or a foot on the penalty kill to block shots. He’s the type of player that teams need to have on hand....And though it would be too simplistic to boil down the PK to just one individual, here’s an interesting (as possibly telling statistic): McGinn’s 4v5 Goals Against/60 this season? 5.4. Tanev’s last year? 9.1.

An item like that is some evidence that having McGinn around was a tangible partial reason why Pittsburgh’s PK went from 27th last season to 3rd in 2021-22. McGinn didn’t blow anyone away this season, but he played to the level almost perfectly as advertised.

Ideal 2022-23

It would be nice to see the Penguins have more of a “matchup” checking line that can play tougher competition. McGinn, in theory, should be able to form 23 of such a line with Blueger — though in execution and in practice it didn’t work out like that this past season. As such, McGinn will be counted on to hopefully pitch in a little more offense while continuing the work on the penalty kill that surely must have pleased the coaches. The 15G-15A mark would be nice to shoot for, based on career patterns and norms, with seemingly little chance of a significant surprise in a good or bad way in that regard.

Question to ponder

Discussing a player’s game like McGinn is kinda like eating your vegetables — necessary and beneficial, but perhaps not that much fun. What did you see from McGinn in his first season in Pittsburgh that you liked? What, if anything, can he do more or better in the future? Do you expect much different out of him?

Poll

How would you grade Brock McGinn’s 2021-22 season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (5 votes)
  • 35%
    B
    (162 votes)
  • 54%
    C
    (248 votes)
  • 7%
    D
    (33 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
451 votes total Vote Now