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Don’t Be Surprised by Jamie McGinn’s Production

When the Sabres traded for their number one center at this year’s draft, they also got Jamie McGinn.  Many Sabres fans viewed McGinn as a “throw-in”, or maybe even a salary dump by the Avalanche.  He only had 4 goals and 2 assists last year in the Mile High City.

Since the season began, McGinn has impressed and put up very solid numbers.  He has earned more and more ice time from Dan Bylsma and now finds himself on the top line, riding shotgun with the very same elite center that he was traded with.  Many Sabres fans are pleasantly surprised by the production that we have seen from McGinn.  I think most people thought of him as a 3rd or 4th line checking winger, not the top line scoring threat that he has become.

Most Sabres fans will tell you that he is exceeding their expectations.  He’s 4th on the team in points (17) and tied for 3rd in goals (8).  Not bad for a guy that nobody expected much from.

I’ll argue that, if you are in the camp of the pleasantly surprised, it’s only because you aren’t familiar with his game.  That’s understandable.  Prior to this season, he played his entire career in the Western Conference and he has been on teams featuring much flashier players; like Matt Duchene, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Gabriel Landeskog.  Ryan O’Reilly is another player whose star shown brighter than McGinn’s.

But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been productive.  Last season’s numbers were as low as they were mainly due to injury.  McGinn suffered a back injury that required surgery and he only played in 19 games.  That may have lowered his trade value just enough for Tim Murray to get an undervalued asset in a deal where all the attention, rightfully so, was on the centerpiece of the deal in Ryan O’Reilly.

Let’s look at his points per game over different stages of his career.  This year, he has 17 points in 36 games.  That’s good for a very respectable .47 points per game.  However, in  his 4 seasons with Colorado, his points per game average was actually slightly higher at .49.  He had 79 points (42 goals and 37 assists) in 162 games for the Avalanche.  He actually was scoring goals at a greater clip in Colorado too.  He had 42 goals in 162 games there (a .26 goals per game average) and his 8 goals in 36 games this season is an average of .22 goals per game.

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It’s true that he’s on pace to have the most points of his career, but not by much.  His current pace (assuming he remains healthy of course) is to score 18 goals and add 21 assists for 39 points.  That would eclipse his career high of 38 points that he had in the 2013-14 season for the Avalanche, but by just one point.  His 18 goals wouldn’t even be a career high.  He scored 20 in the 2011-12 season, when he suited up for both San Jose and Colorado.

So don’t be surprised by the numbers that McGinn has been able to put up.  He’s not doing anything that he hasn’t done in the past.  As fans on the East Coast, we just didn’t fully understand what he was bringing to the table.

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