With the Florida Panthers deeper in the forward position moving forward, does Jamie McGinn have a place on the team?
For a traditional bottom-six winger, his tally of 13G, 16A, and 29Pts would be pretty respectable if he were to put up those numbers on the Panthers’ bottom line. But for a second line winger, 29 points just aren’t enough, nor does it crack a playoff-caliber team, either.
So to answer the question above, yes, there remains a place on this team for Jamie McGinn, but his role will have to be on the bottom line.
With a year left on his current contract at $3.3M/AAV, the Panthers are really stuck with the 29-year-old winger. Not many teams would take on that salary for a bottom-six winger, as well as for a forward who’s already on the decline.
The only option the Panthers really have is to simply play out the remainder of his contract, and it seems like that’s what they’re planning to do. With no real options present with Jamie McGinn, the Cats can really only play him.
But where does he play? And on what line? Well, for starters, assuming that the first two lines will either be 27–16–63, 11-21-68, or, 11-16-63, 27-21-68, we can definitely assume that McGinn’s time in the top-six is finally over.
How about the third line? Unless Boughner sees something that I don’t, the third line spots should be awarded to Jared McCann, Denis Malgin, and Henrik Borgstrom. The first two are guaranteed starters for the Panthers this year, while the latter is likely to play in his first full season.
So that leaves Jamie on the fourth line, right? You bet! And there’s honestly nothing wrong with that, either. The fourth line is where McGinn belongs, which actually suits his playing style.
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Obviously, this is wishful thinking, and a man can always dream, right? What I presented above is really unrealistic and something I wouldn’t expect happening from Boughner’s end. But truthfully speaking, I feel it could be the right combination, allowing the Cats to retain more puck possession while also creating more scoring opportunities in the process.
Although, between Boughner’s liking towards Micheal Haley, and his trust in Derek MacKenzie, the only wish that’s realistic is seeing McGinn on the bottom line, which again, isn’t really a wish on my end, but more so an expectation.
With that, one of Haley or DMac will be scratched nightly, seeing Colton Sceviour isn’t losing his spot anytime soon. Nor should he. Now, you have a line of McGinn-DMac-Sceviour, with Haley being a scratch and Mamin looking from the outside in.
If it boils down to MacKenzie or Haley (which it very well might), I could certainly see Boughner taking his captain over Haley. And why wouldn’t he? DMac, after all, is the better player.
With all of that said and done, you accomplished two things: 1). You separated Haley and MacKenzie from one another, thus strengthening the fourth line. And 2). You found a spot for McGinn to play in, making the most out of his bad salary instead of paying a $3.3M man to sit in a press box nightly.
There’s also winger Frank Vatrano who you can’t forget about, either. Vatrano could definitely battle McGinn out of his spot, taking the left-wing position on the fourth line.
Frankie won’t see 82 games of action this season, but he’s a player who will be called upon to step into the lineup when needed. He’s hungry for a permanent role on an NHL roster, eager to battle it out with anyone on the team. That’s something McGinn should be mindful of, especially if he wants a spot on this roster.
To me, this is all progress, and Ws across the board in every situation. What I proposed above likely won’t happen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t, but if the Panthers are serious about becoming a playoff-caliber team, they should look to rearrange their bottom line like the way I did (or something similar).
Whether you like it or not, Jamie McGinn is playing in a Panthers uniform this season and should be placed in a position where he can succeed (the fourth line). There isn’t much leeway in terms of what to do with McGinn, ultimately meaning that the best decision moving forward is to play the winger consistently.
Once McGinn’s contract is up, it’s doubtful that the Cats will renew, but with a season left until that happens, will Jamie serve well on the Panthers’ fourth line?