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Interruptions Derailed a Promising First Year for Penguins Brock McGinn

Consistency is key for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brock McGinn.

It's not easy to go into your first season with a new team as the most expensive summer signing, especially when your role is a bottom-six winger. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brock McGinn was the only player signed last off-season whose contract extended beyond two years.

McGinn came to the Penguins as a bottom-six option with playoff experience and keen penalty-killing ability, and that's what he did in his first season in Pittsburgh. However, he also showed glimpses of an improved offensive threat early in the year.

Throughout the first 30 games of the season, McGinn scored 12 points (8-4) while playing primarily on the bottom line for the Penguins. Heading into the Christmas break, he was on pace to score 21 goals on the season, which would've easily surpassed his career-high of 16. McGinn was also on pace for 32 points, another career-high.

Due to COVID outbreaks across the league, an extended Christmas gave the Penguins two full weeks between games. After the long layoff, McGinn scored one goal in three games before being placed on the NHL's COVID list, sidelining him for another ten days.

After returning from the COVID list, McGinn continued to face interruptions during his first season in Pittsburgh, once during the NHL's All-Star break, and again when he missed a month due to a wrist injury in March. 

In the end, the 28-year-old depth winger scored only 10 points (4-6) in 34 games following the Christmas break. His underlying numbers at five on five also took a hit, finishing the season with the lowest Corsi for percentage, expected goals percentage, and scoring chances for percentage in five years. 

Some are calling for McGinn to be on the trade block this summer, wanting his spot in the lineup to be taken by someone younger and cheaper. However, there is a lack of NHL-ready prospects in the Penguins system and multiple other holes to fill in the bottom six. The last thing Penguins general manager Ron Hextall should do is trade away a known commodity in McGinn.

The odds are that next season will not go without interruption, but McGinn showed that if he can play somewhat consistently and get into a rhythm, he may have another level offensively. McGinn remains one of the better penalty-killing forwards on the Penguins and is a steady presence on the bottom line with Teddy Blueger. 

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