Since Jared McCann was acquired by the Florida Panthers in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks, fans expected him to be the big prospect to boost the offensive depth of this roster.
This has arguably not been the case for the past few seasons. Now that McCann’s contract is set to expire, the question comes into play of where he’ll play next season?
On May 25, 2016, the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks had announced a trade that shocked the hockey world, leading to fans of both sides scratching their heads. This move was very unexpected as Jared McCann, a top offensive prospect positioned at center, and Erik Gudbranson, a gritty strong piece to any blue line, had been swapped.
This transaction also involved the Canucks receiving a 2016 5th round pick and the Panthers receiving 2nd and 4th round picks. The headlines for this deal mainly contained the names of the two active players for each team. But aside from the trade, some time has passed where this deal can be broken down, as well as the future for the players involved. Since Gudbranson is now locked up as a Canuck after signing a 3-year extension, the only future in question is the one of McCann.
From his first time throwing on a Panther uniform, this 21-year-old forward has shown some signs of improvement, but not a whole lot. His most memorable moment in Florida was an overtime goal scored during the 2017-18 season at home, against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 27th, 2018. It was said by head coach Bob Boughner that, “He deserved to be out there” for the overtime.
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Other than that goal, there hasn’t been much evidence proving that McCann has the capability to become a superstar in the National Hockey League. In his rookie season with Vancouver, he recorded 9 goals and 9 assists, not too shabby for any rookie in their first pro season. Once he moved to the Cats, he was older, expectations were higher, and not only was the organization expecting him to be the third line center of the future, but the fan base did also. But, that isn’t what has exactly happened so far.
In his first season in South Florida, Jared didn’t stay permanently in the big leagues. He spent a chunk of time in the American Hockey League with the Panthers’ affiliated team, the Springfield Thunderbirds. In Springfield, McCann recorded 11 goals and 14 assists in 42 games, which capped off a much better slashline than his nightmare pro season of 1 goal and 6 assists in 29 games. However, the talent and level of difficulty is very different when comparing those two leagues. While he showed some signs of life in the minors, he still didn’t show much capability at the NHL level.
Now as the 2017-18 season approached for the Canadian youngster, expectations were not as high as they had been before. This was the season where this kid would’ve been set to explode with no expectations, no pressure, and more time on the third line, setting him up for success. With the 2017-2018 season now in the books, in 68 games played, McCann recorded 9 goals and 19 assists for a career high of 28 points, almost setting career highs in every other possible category, but still not living up to expectations. With a little more experience under his belt next year, it’s possible that McCann could reach the 40 point tally, which is what any team would want out of their third line centerman.
According to CapFriendly.com, Jared McCann’s deal is about to conclude, as he is on the last year of his entry-level contract, currently holding an average annual value of $1,106,667. He has will become a restricted free agent since the 2017-18 campaign has come to an end, meaning that the Panthers will need to offer him a new contract (which likely wouldn’t be a lot). Now that the expiration date of his deal is in the rear-view, the Panthers need to start taking the elements of his performance, potential, and attitude into question when the off-season comes around.
Jared McCann has finished the third season of his young NHL career, with his entry-level contract expiring. The Panthers have to start taking the 21-year-old forward into consideration for another deal, but, is McCann an essential piece to the puzzle with all of the offensive prospects the Panthers currently have? Is he the third line center of the future that Florida has been seeking? All these questions should be answered in the time to come.