San Jose Sharks: Why Jamie McGinn Makes Ryane Clowe Expendable

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJuly 19, 2010

When the calendar still reads July, and the buzz over the early portion of NHL free agency period has come and gone, hockey writers are simply pulling teeth trying to find worthy news to post about.

In fact, from Mid-July to the start of team training camps in September is probably the least exciting time period of the year for hockey fans.

Even this season, with a few significant free agents yet to sign, and blockbuster offseason trades still being made, the overall lack of movement and lack of team practices during this portion of the year makes die hard hockey followers claim to be going through withdrawals.

So when the time of year comes around with the least amount of buzz and news across the league, what are fans to do?

Well, there is always the in depth analysis at the obvious positions of need for each club.

However, when it comes to the San Jose Sharks, the blogs and columns writing about upgrading the defense have already been EVERYONE.

From the most casual fan, to the top writers here on BR, to the professional beat writers, everyone has given their input on how San Jose should upgrade the blue-line.

Making a change at defense has been the talk of the town since the end of the Sharks' season. With the moves San Jose has made since, the defense discussions have only ratcheted up.

Unfortunately, the only thing fans can do is attempt to be patient on the potential defensive upgrade. Something that is easier said than done for fans who enjoy watching the fastest sport in the world.

So with fans playing the wait and see game as the offseason slowly creeps along, and the views of yours truly on San Jose's third line center vacancy already available ( ) what is left to discuss?

Nothing but conjecture.

And any conjecture coming from Sharks writers during the dog days of summer could have been easily offered up much earlier in the offseason.

But since serious talks about up and coming Shark forward Jamie McGinn playing a much larger role next season haven't hit the forums as of yet, it feels like an adequate time to bring them to the table.

McGinn will be a 25+ goal scorer next season if given top-six ice time and because of that potential, current Sharks top-six forward Ryane Clowe is expendable.

That's right, I said it.

Clowe is expendable because of the presence of McGinn, a player who still hasn't out-grown his nobody jersey number of 64 despite playing in 94 games in parts of two seasons with the Sharks.

Now in those 94 regular season games, McGinn has scored just 14 goals and to go along with five assists for a total of 19 points.

Not exactly eye popping production, nor average production at that.

However, those who look purely at the point totals in such a short sample of NHL experience and label McGinn a certain type of mere role player are selling the kid extremely short.

His .132 career shooting percentage is higher that that of Clowe's (.125), Devin Setoguchi's (.120), and Joe Pavelski's (.102).

Granted McGinn doesn't have the service time in the league nor ice time per game to match the trio of Sharks that made up San Jose's second line last year, but the numbers don't lie.

He buries a higher percentage of the shots he takes.

Does that alone show he has more potential than each of the current members of San Jose's second line?

No, not necessarily. Having a higher shooting percentage means he could be getting lucky early in his career and facing less talented defenders than his more established teammates.

But when you watch McGinn on film, you can see the kid has a rocket of a shot, a wrister that has more accuracy and power than both Clowe and Setoguchi, and arguably even more than Pavelski.

Plus despite averaging just 7:45 in ice time per game during the postseason on a fourth line with just him, Scott Nichol, and a rotating right wing (San Jose often went with seven defenseman), McGinn finished a plus for the playoffs.

Sure, it was only plus-one, but being able to perform defensively with only one consistent linemate is quite impressive.

Conversely, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley all finished in the minus for the postseason.

What does that say about McGinn, that he was able to finish in the plus even though he didn't record a single point in the playoffs?

It says that the 21-year-old kid did his job.

He wasn't asked to score, he was asked to give his team quality minutes and keep the other team off the scoreboard.

The kid worked his tail off each and every shift of every game, and it was noticeable from everyone who watched the Sharks this past season.

Add that work ethic to a skating speed faster than Clowe, Pavelski, Thornton, and Heatley, and it is incredibly easy to become a fan of "Ginner."

McGinn can flat out fly. He isn't as naturally gifted with speed as is Marleau or Setoguchi, but the acceleration in his first few strides allows him to be in the conversation of one of the faster Sharks forwards.

Essentially, McGinn has better speed, a better shot, and is just as tenacious a forward as the man who wears No. 29 for the Sharks.

He may not drop the gloves as frequently or dominate along the boards as well as Clowe does, but his much more elite skating and shooting ability allows him much more potential offensive production.

Even if McGinn's scoring rate doesn't improve from this past season, if his TOI is increased from 10 minutes per to 15 minutes per and games played increased from 59 to 82, he will more than double his goal total to 21 next season.

Yet with a year of growth and experience, plus the benefit of playing alongside better skilled linemates on San Jose's second scoring line, McGinn's goal scoring clip should naturally increase.

Therefore, if the Sharks put McGinn on that second line, he will bag 25 goals alongside Pavelski and Setoguchi.

And that potential goal scoring prowess should allow Sharks GM Doug Wilson to be comfortable enough in packaging Clowe in a deal for the defenseman that the Sharks so desperately need.


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