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Jared McCann: Graduating to the NHL too early affected him mentally

Last year, Jared McCann came out of nowhere with the Kraken, scoring no less than 40 goals. Sure, he’d scored 27 the season before, but we’re talking about a guy who’d never scored more than 14 in a campaign before coming to Seattle two years ago.

Because, yes, McCann didn’t have a great start to his career. A first-round pick in Vancouver (24th overall in 2014), he spent just two seasons with the organization, including an uninspiring NHL rookie season.

Now, appearing on Luke Gadzic’s podcast, McCann looked back on his time in Vancouver, and brought up an interesting point: graduating to the NHL too early really affected him.

If you’d like to listen, here’s where he talks about it:

Basically, what he’s explaining is that he wasn’t ready to make the jump directly to the NHL and really could have benefited from a year in the AHL. He wasn’t physically ready yet, weighing 172 pounds, and getting shuffled around didn’t help his confidence.

And the fact that he was traded (for Erik Gudbranson) immediately after his rookie year didn’t help either. He felt that the Canucks had given up on him after just one year, even though he had yet to show the full extent of his potential.

Add to this the fact that rumours about his bad attitude (which came from just one player on the team and which really don’t seem to be true, as he was afraid to talk to veterans) were spreading, and it’s understandable that it affected him.

But as for graduating too quickly, that’s a message all GMs need to hear. And that includes Kent Hughes.

Last year, Juraj Slafkovský spent the year in the NHL, and while he showed some nice things, I’m of the opinion that perhaps he could have benefited from a year in the AHL. I think sending him to Laval to start the current season would be a good idea, but I don’t expect it to happen.

And right now, the CH has a fine bank of prospects, but it has to make sure it puts the youngsters in the right conditions to develop them. Sending them into the thick of NHL action before they’re ready for it won’t speed up their development.

I’m thinking here of a guy like David Reinbacher, for example: there’s nothing wrong with leaving him in Europe for a year and then playing him in Laval if that’s the best thing for his development.

The Habs have already made this mistake with Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the past, and could well have done so with Max Pacioretty had he not asked the club to leave him down there rather than continue to yo-yo between the AHL and the NHL.

A few years ago, Arpon Basu published an excellent paper on Pacioretty’s experience with the AHL and the positive things he learned from it.

The CH (and other teams) must therefore take notes on the Pacioretty and McCann situations. It’s not always that simple, but often, giving prospects some time in the AHL allows them to take a breath and be better prepared to face the rigors of the NHL.

As the saying goes, there’s no point in running, you’ve got to run.

In gusto

– Speaking of the CH’s hopefuls.

– Where will Zadina bounce back to?

– Notice to interested parties.

– That’s right. I was just talking about his setbacks earlier this morning.

– Oops.

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