There are a few players on the Hurricanes blue line who I'm not quite sure what to expect from in this coming season, and defenseman Jamie McBain is one player who is near the top of the list. It feels as if McBain has been around for awhile but it's easy to forget that he is only 24 years old and is about to enter only his third full season in the NHL, so he is still learning the game a bit. When he came out of college, McBain was billed a mobile, puck-moving defenseman who could be a future powerplay quarterback and he has somewhat lived up to that billing. The Hurricanes heavily utilize McBain on the powerplay and he has two decent offensive seasons under his belt, but he has yet to show the ability to run a powerplay on his own or be anything more than a borderline top-four guy.
In McBain's 2+ years with the Hurricanes, the coaching staff has used him in numerous different roles in defense corps and the results have been mixed. He has struggled mightly in a top-four role with Joni Pitkanen but he has seen some decent in limited minutes playing against tough competition with Gleason as his partner. However, the role he flourished in last season was when he was placed on a third pairing with Jaroslav Spacek in a more protected role. The duo did everything you could ask from a third pairing as they were the team's most effecitve unit at even strength scoring chances. With Faulk and Harrison being able to handle some of the tougher assignments, this role seemed perfect for McBain at the time.
Unfortunately for McBain, Spacek is gone and I'm not sure how the team will plan to use him for the upcoming year. I still think that the Hurricanes aren't certain with what they have in McBain either since he's still pretty young and he's been used in so many roles in only 166 NHL games. Either way, they see him as valuable asset since they decided to extend him for two years and everyone will have a better picture of what McBain is by the end of the year depending on how this season goes for him.
The problem, of course, is that no one really knows how this upcoming year could go for McBain. He could either continue to flourish as an offensive defenseman, finally be able to step into the top-four on more of a full-time basis or fall completely off the radar and end up in the press box towards the end of the year. The possibilities are really endless for McBain because he's taken on a lot of mileage already and he has yet to stick to just one role. To get a better idea of what to expect from McBain next year, we will take a closer look at some of the details of his career and see whether or not he will have that breakout year every Carolina fan is hoping for.no comments