There have been very few bright spots for the Flyers so far this season. One of those bright spots has been recent call up Tye McGinn. In recent history the Flyers have had an ability to find diamonds in the rough. Either through trade like Ville Leino, signing undrafted players Matt Read, or in the later rounds of the draft like current OHL points leader Nick Cousins or World Juniors Gold Medalist Shayne Gostisbehere, the Flyers have been able to make some pretty sweet lemonade out of players other teams have thought were lemons. Tye McGinn may be next unlikely player to make a big impact.
McGinn was drafted in 2010 and was already considered unlikely to succeed. Drafted less than a month before his twentieth birthday; McGinn went undrafted in 2008 and 2009. The Flyers drafted McGinn in the fourth round; after trading away their first and second round picks McGinn was the second player the Flyers took in the draft. Returning to the Gatineau Olympiques McGinn put up 64 points, averaging just over 1.5 points per game, before joining the Phantoms for the 2011-12 AHL Season. While McGinn didn't put up very impressive numbers in the AHL he clearly impressed the team with his play and his numbers with the Flyers speak for itself (he's leading the team in points per game average don't you know).
McGinn is a typical power forward. Out muscle guys along the boards. Get to the front of the net. Create some havoc. Tye McGinn does this and he does it pretty well. Power forwards can be a great asset for a team when properly utilized but can put up some disappointing numbers when used the wrong way. Look no further than the power forwards on the Flyers roster. A peek at Scott Hartnell's career stats and you can see his point totals per season have varied wildly over his career. Wayne Simmonds had a break out season last year after he came to Philadelphia and played top six minutes and got time on the power play. Power forwards need to play on a line with skilled forwards put up big points. Look at a player like Zack Kassian in Vancouver. Over the past two years Kassian had put up moderately impressive point totals in the AHL and disappointing numbers in limited time in the NHL. Soon after the season started Kassian was put on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin and he is currently putting up better numbers than both of them.
McGinn now has a Kassian like opportunity in front of him. With Hartnell out for a month and Simmonds possibly out for at least a game or two Kassian has become the premier power forward on the team. I don't know what Saturday's line combinations will be but I think there is a good chance that McGinn will find himself skating with Claude Giroux and Danny Briere on the Flyers top line. After Simmonds went down against the Capitals McGinn stepped into his regular position on the power play. Laviolette clearly has faith in McGinn and he isn't afraid to have the 22 year play important minutes.
I think McGinn will excel this season. His size, energy, and prowess in front of the net paired with Peter Laviolette's system which relies heavily on toughness by the goal mouth makes me think he could have a breakout season. He will probably skate with either the first or the second power play unit for the rest of the season and will most likely play a top six role until Hartnell gets back. I think McGinn can put up good numbers in this short season if he continues to play with skilled players like I think he will. There is a chance that McGinn could put up as many as 15 goals and just north of 30 points this season.
Now while I think McGinn will play a big part of the Flyers story this season I don't know how much of a future McGinn has with the team. Not that I don't think McGinn has a future in the NHL, quite the contrary, I think he will have a good career in the NHL just not with the Flyers. McGinn's contract is up after the 2013-14 season which means his contract is up at the same time as Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, and Andrej Meszaros. The Flyers' other power forwards, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, are both signed through 2019. In addition, Marcel Noebels, another young power forward, is currently in the AHL and scoring at a better clip than McGinn when he was in the minor leagues. With cap issues looming and a wealth of similar players under contract McGinn is expendable. If McGinn puts up good numbers over the next couple of months he could possibly be traded as early as the trade deadline. If he plays as well as I think he can the Flyers could get a nice haul in exchange for the young power forward. It will most likely come in the form of draft picks unless the Flyers can get out of their current funk in which he could be dealt for a rental player (possibly even a star like Jermone Iginla).