Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Kraken Preview: Jared McCann Jersey Card

(team and product links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: Unlike in the distant past where I would post different texts on this collectibles blog and my personal one, I've been using a new format for the past couple of years, where I'll copy the same text on each one. As a father of two young kids, I just do not have enough time to write two separate posts per day on each blog. This year again, the entire scope of the analysis will take place first and the featured player will have a direct or perhaps indirect connection to what's written, below.

Caveats: At this point, despite training camp being set to start in a week, several players haven't found a team yet and a few clubs are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Key exits: Joonas Donskoi (RW), Daniel Sprong (RW), Carson Soucy (D), Ryan Donato (RW), Martin Jones (G), Morgan Geekie (RW), and Jesper Froden (RW/LW).

Key arrivals: Pierre-Édouard Bellemare (C), Brian Dumoulin (D), Kailer Yamamoto (RW), and Connor Carrick (D).

Top prospects: Shane Wright (C, 19 years old, went from projected first-overall pick to fourth to being sent down to Juniors to being named captain of Team Canada's World Juniors team to ending up sixth in team scoring - fourth among centres! - and a full 16 points behind Connor Bedard in seven games, still probably a future middle-six player), Ryker Evans (D, 21 years old, 44 points in 77 AHL games last season), David Goyette (C, 19 years old, a bit on the short side but dominant in the OHL), Ty Nelson (D, 19 years old, undersized speedy defenseman with nice offensive skills), Jagged Firkus (RW, 19 years old, good offensive skills but needs to add muscle to his 153-pound frame), and Eduard Sale (W, 18 years old, was named the 2022-23 Rookie Of The Year in Czechia).

I didn't have them in the playoffs last year and they ended up eliminating the reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, so I'm aware I may have to eat my words at some point, but this roster is two goalies, a GM and a head coach short of making an actual permanent dent in a divisional race of the playoffs. Like the light blue on their white uniform, it's probably NHL-caliber, but... there's just something missing.

What makes their odds look good:
The Seattle Kraken have been on an upward trajectory since coming into the NHL two seasons ago, with steady progress and smart salary cap management. They had 13 players hit the double-digit mark in goals last season - six of them with 20 or more - two more at nine, and one apiece at eight and seven. As far as I remember, I have never seen this balanced an offense in practice.

Question marks: What about that goaltending, eh? Team goaltending below ,900 is simply unacceptable in today's NHL.

GM Ron Francis wanted depth - essentially icing four second lines - but without the elite talent that the Vegas Golden Knights have; hopefully the draft can remedy that in time. There is definitely a solid base, but Francis has not poven to be able to get to that next step as a manager, to take a very good roster and turn it into a champion, which is why he was let go in 2018 as GM of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Fifth in the Pacific Division.

Jared McCann led the Kraken with 40 goals last year in what may end up proving to be a career year, but he can certainly hit 30-35 goals on a consistent basis. A former first-round pick (24th overall in 2014, Vancouver Canucks), fans expected McCann to be a top-six player right away and the fact that he wasn't seemed to have hurt his confidence.

A trade to the Florida Panthers didn't fix anything, and as the league forged an opinion that he may be at best a third-liner, the Pittsburgh Penguins offered him that role on a silver platter; not only did he excel at it, but he also showed that he still had that sparkle - so much so that the Pens were convinced the Kraken would select him in the expansion draft; to at least recoup an asset, they traded his rights to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who wanted to ensure Alexander Kerfoot remained with the organization; offering up McCann nearly guaranteed he would be taken, thus semi-protecting Kerfoot for the remainder of his contract with the Leafs. He signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Coyotes this summer, as the Leafs went through an organizational shift at the bottom of their roster.

In the second of a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5M, McCann will no doubt be worth his salary for the remainder of his contract. He loves being relied upon for goals and it will be at least three or four years until Seattle can develop a finisher who will be able to challenge him for his spot. This is a perfect fit for both player and team.

Here he is as a rookie with the Canucks, wearing their white (away) uniform, on card #J-JM from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Champ's set and Relics / Rookie Relics sub-sets:
It features a blue "event-worn" jersey swatch from a rookie photo shoot.

Internationally, McCann suited up for Canada at the 2019 World Championships, winning silver and finishing the tournament with 2 goals and 5 points in 10 games.

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