The emergence of Jack McBain will make Bill Guerin’s job easier to replace Jordan Greenway

Right now I’m looking over this Minnesota Wild squad and the pieces are coming together with a couple building blocks. The more building blocks I’ve been wanting more of lately are bigger players who can do a combination of everything on the ice including consistently using their bodies a lot to create energy and havoc on offense. Every playoff team needs a combination of speed, skill, and power. This team is transitioning into more of a fast and skilled group, but it’s still lacking true power to be a playoff animal. You see players like Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno be effective players in a more physical setting. Against the Las Vegas Golden Knights Eriksson Ek was arguably the team’s best player because of the type of game he plays and is effective around the net. He’s not a huge player or the most aggressive, but he leads by example by being the most hard working player on the ice providing strong two-way play and feistiness that annoys the hell out of the opponent. That’s why he’s made for the playoffs.

I think these breed of players don’t get enough credit because we’re always looking at the statistics along with looking at how highly skilled a player is, but without the other attributes such as power which makes a player extremely effective. I’m bringing up this topic because I see a lot of NHL upside in Jack McBain who already has NHL size and has taken the proper time to fix his bad skating for the NHL level. McBain brings a similar type of game like Eriksson Ek and Foligno, but can thrive in a more skilled setting because of him being a natural playmaker.

I wish I can say the same about Jordan Greenway all the time. Someone who brings the same type of leadership to a team and be a gem in the top-9 like JEE and Foligno. The thing is, Greenway doesn’t make or break a team. He isn’t a building block. For a 6’6" giant, you want to see him take charge more and display more of a winning mentality to make a difference on the ice. The games Greenway was injured you hardly noticed his presence missing. He doesn’t make a difference on offense, but he’s a solid two-way player with an excellent stick and will display puck protection. He will be a net front presence too, but the thing is you feel like something else is missing. More clutch play is needed.

When former GM Chuck Fletcher took Greenway in the 2015 NHL Draft he loved his projected frame who would hope his offensive upside will develop to be a great top-9 player. The thing is that side of Greenway’s game hasn’t fully developed. I’m not saying Greenway won’t improve, but to me he doesn’t bring the natural skills to be a puck facilitator he tries to be in the ice. You wish he had better puck skills to facilitate a line offensively while making a difference on the physical side of things every night and be a dominant force and play in all situations. Power forwards do take longer to develop than any other breed of forwards because they are growing into their bodies and be effective on the physical side. However, it comes all the way back to the mentality of a player. Despite the GREEF line being the team’s go-to line against top lines I still believe Greenway is the weak link of that line despite the exploding hits he displays from time-to-time. You wish he’d be more consistent when it comes to commanding the ice and making a true difference on both sides of the puck. You want him to display a true workhorse mentality that will make that line have more of an offensive punch. Only if he had the mentality like former Wild Zach Parise then he’d be a true pain in the ass to play against every night. You want more consistency.

With Guerin entering salary cap hell next season he’s ready to keep players you can build a team around. With Guerin signing Greenway to a bridge deal already I don’t see Greenway here long-term. If anything he’s open to finding replacements to upgrade the top-9, and who can bring what we all want Greenway to bring to a playoff team and McBain fits that mold. McBain can play in an NHL lineup right now. His player build is a power forward who plays a structured two-way game, but plays with an edge we wish Greenway brings. McBain isn’t going to get into a lot of fights, but he understands the definition of playing your size effectively and is a brilliant leader. He’s going to finish checks along with his effective stick at breaking up plays and is not afraid to get his hands dirty. However, what McBain brings that separates himself from Greenway is a natural knack of finding open guys to score goals. I’ve seen Greenway made some good plays at times, but he doesn’t have the skill to do it on a consistent basis and be a threat on a PP. Being a true top-9 threat. Foligno and Eriksson Ek both play penalty kill and the powerplay.

Greenway tries to lead a line offensively, but often I see him display hands of stone by making turnovers and hardly getting a good shot off to be a threat to a goalie. It’s the consistency issues that holds Greenway back. You want to see more and want to believe he’s capable of bringing more. McBain is that kind of player and you will notice a difference once McBain joins Eriksson Ek and Foligno. He’ll fit right in and be what we wanted Greenway to be. Provide significant depth scoring to a playoff team and be a true power presence. I don’t see McBain as a top tier talent in the NHL, but I see a excellent leader who plays hard and can make a difference offensively when other players aren’t finding the scoresheet. Let’s look into more of the Great Bane Jack McBain.

Current team:

Boston College Eagles (A)

Height: 6’4", Weight: 218 pounds

Position: C (LW secondary position)

Age: 22

Player profile

As mentioned above McBain is the type of player playoff teams need when it comes to being able to handle the difficult matchups and make a difference offensively to provide secondary scoring. He is a player who will outmuscle you and outwork you every chance he gets. McBain was a kid when he first joined the Eagles as he was trying to establish his own role. Now he’s being looked at as a strong 200ft presence who can be effective on special teams and be a physical presence. What was McBain’s weakness? His skating wasn’t the greatest. His top speed was rated good, but in today’s NHL you need to have more of a quicker leap when it comes to accelerating up the ice. He has a short skating stride which was described as choppy.

McBain is more of a straight line skater who is strong on his skates. People question why McBain isn’t in the NHL right now. It has more to do with him skating with top competition. McBain can also fit the profile of a top-6 player because of his playmaking ability and the kind of minutes you want him to play. Scouts have mentioned McBain needing to shoot more because of the fact he has a good shot. He’s also a pure agitator due to his workmanlike mentality and competitiveness not to mention athleticism. He’s a facilitator. Let’s look more into the growth of McBain.

Statistics at BC

Freshman year

35GP: 6G, 7A 13PTS

Sophomore year

34GP 6G, 15A 21PTS

Junior year

24GP 6G, 13A 19PTS

On pace for 35 games (35GP 9G, 19A 28PTS)

Senior year (so far)

18GP 13G, 11A 24PTS,20212022

You can feel free to play around the stats if you’d like. Here’s what I found noteworthy of McBain’s college career and has shown he has the tools to be a shutdown presence while being a productive player in the NHL. Don’t always fall for the stats.

Notable stats

  • Despite McBain finishing with 6 goals in his freshman year he was tied for 5th on the team in goals. David Cotton scored a scorching 23 goals and nobody else finished with 10 goals or more.
  • Cotton had the highest shooting percentage with his team leading goals, but took tons of shots in 136. He had the best shooting percentage on the team with 16.9. Oliver Wahlstrom finished with 121, but he finished with a shooting percentage of 6.6 which was 11th on the team. McBain finished 2nd on the team in shooting percentage with 15.8 and only had 38 shots (13th on the team out of 21 forwards playing more than 22 games). 136 to 38 is a large margin. Cotton took approximately 4 times the shots than McBain took. What if Cotton didn’t shoot the puck as much would McBain have had the best shooting percentage? Hmm..
  • McBain finished 1st among forwards in blocked shots in his freshman, sophomore, and junior season.
  • He finished 8th in goals during his sophomore season with a shooting percentage of 13.3 which ranked him 7th; and, finished 10th in shots with 45.
  • Finished 6th in assists with 15 in sophomore season.
  • He finished 2nd in shorthanded goals with 2 in sophomore season.
  • Finished 3rd on the team in assists with 13 in junior season.
  • Finished 10th in shooting percentage with 10, and 3rd on the team with 60 shots. T-5th in scoring with 6 goals in junior season.

Why is his senior year special?

McBain’s hardwork has paid off and he’s having better luck producing points in an elevated role that’s having an effect on the team. He’s first on the team in PPG (points per game) with 1.33 and has played only 18 games. Everyone else who plays regularly has played 20 or more games and the next highest PPG is fellow senior Marc McLaughlin with 1.00. McBain’s has been out with an injury. Nobody else has touched McBain’s numbers.

He’s currently 2nd on the team in goals with 13. You would think if he played all 23 games he would be tied or leading the team in goals. McLaughlin has 17, but has played 5 more games. McBain is currently 2nd on the team with 4 powerplay goals. Also got awarded the A on his sweater full time. He wore the A a few times last year as a junior. He grew more with his coaches including head coach Jerry York who always has good things to say about McBain and his value to the team. Searched around the web and found these couple of videos to describe McBain.

What is Jack McBain’s NHL player build?

At the NHL level McBain isn’t going to be a team’s top point producer, but will be one of the better offensive players on the ice because of his stellar two-way play and his combination of passing and finishing as he doesn’t need to shoot a lot to score. He has a good shot. If you see the Eagles powerplay at times you can see McBain play multiple positions. Either behind the net, halfwall, or in front of the net. He’s going to be a distraction at the crease, but can set someone up to score goals too. So how does him being in the 2nd powerplay unit sound? We’re talking about a legitimate top-9 player with the skill to hang in a top-6. A future stud and future captain in my book. His realistic NHL player upside. Can play with top liners despite not being a tier 1 talent. A top-9 gem and stud. You’ll see JEE and Foligno being more opportunistic when it comes to generating shots because of McBain’s passing ability complimenting those two. They have a natural playmaker who can feed them pucks in the slot who can do it at a much better consistency than Greenway at this point.

I see McBain as the better talent, leader, and competitor. The only questions facing McBain at this point is did he get faster? The Eagles have a good hockey program so I’d bet McBain’s spending all 4 seasons at BC helped him in that area. Also, will his production translate against NHL competition? At the NCAA level McBain has shown to be a reliable producer despite what his stats say towards the naked eye. He’s better than what his stats suggests. We want Greenway to be a 50+ point producer and make a difference in all situations. You’re missing that consistency and the offensive skill to make a difference in a depth role. McBain can provide excellent secondary scoring on a playoff team. He’s capable of executing plays Greenway can’t. McBain, Eriksson Ek, and Foligno will bully opposing teams with their size and aggressive forechecking, but will be a legit threat offensively because this line has a natural skill set in McBain they haven’t had before. Well, Fiala is more skilled, but isn’t built for the physical matchups JEE and Foligno are more suited for. McBain can bring both elements to the table. He’s a complete player. He’ll do fine in the NHL with above-average speed like JEE and Foligno being to the table. He doesn’t have to be a speedster. He’s a Hobey Baker candidate.

How to trade Jordan Greenway?

The Wild actually look set at all positions. It’s the growth of the prospects that are taking place. If anything I’d trade Greenway in the offseason if I’m Guerin and trade him for draft picks to add to the draft board. The way the Wild got a 2nd rounder for Luke Kunin turned into a good prospect so far in Marat Khusnutdinov. He traded Jason Zucker to get Calen Addison and Carson Lambos. So if we trade Greenway who knows what we can get to add to our prospect pool by the drafting power of Judd Brackett? The more draft picks Guerin has the more he can trade up in the draft and draft the player he wants. Or what if Greenway is traded for a center prospect who is still in need of more seasoning? Either way we’ll improve our prospect pool. Won’t get too much into this as this is another topic.

Envisioned forward lines in 2022-2023

Mats Zuccarello - Ryan Hartman - Kirill Kaprizov

Matt Boldy - Marco Rossi - Kevin Fiala

Jack McBain - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno

Brandon Duhaime - Freddy Gaudreau - Connor Dewar

Here is what you call a real top-9 with all-around scoring. Rossi comes in and replaces Gaudreau on the 2nd line and is suddenly looking dangerous because of the chemistry between Fiala and Boldy. Once Rossi completes this line after taking more time to prepare for the NHL Rossi is looking like he’ll be a great fit. If Kaprizov isn’t on then you have the Rossi line to take care of business and dominate the pace offensively. Or what if teams manage to get ahold of the Rossi line as well? Well here’s where the depth of the team improves from years past. McBain/JEE/Foligno will be playing the same role we’re used to seeing, but will be more opportunistic and have a better chance of scoring on you because of the playmaking ability of McBain to set up JEE and Foligno in the crease from the boards. McBain has the vision to contribute offensively. Something Greenway doesn’t naturally have. I see a fearless competitor with natural skill.

These 3 will dominate the defensive game and will score on you too. If anything top lines will be overwhelmed by this big boy line because they possess everything, but are thriving in a checking line role. McBain’s the upgrade here. The next line I have Gaudreau here centering the 4th line as he’s signed through next season. Things can change throughout the season. Maybe Guerin signs Nico Sturm. Either way, it’s not a concern. The last line for the Wild will be the gritty and high energetic line that can handle tough matchups and creates lots of havoc around the net and have lots of speed. Gaudreau is better suited for this role more than anything. He can display some of his creativity on a lower line with complimentary, speedy wingers in Duhaime and Dewar. I can see Double trouble and Gaudreau being a good 4th line..

What makes the JEE line more lethal is the fact that McBain playing as a winger will help him transition easier into the NHL because wingers play the easiest position and are more offensive minded. McBain's vision of a center will have the same effect on JEE and Foligno like how Boldy's helping Fiala become a better player despite Fiala being a similar player. Kaprizov of course is the top of the food chain when it comes to that regard, but the JEE line will become more opportunistic because they have more of an offensive element. This team will turn into a juggernaut. When JEE is kicked out of the face off circle McBain can take draws and still win draws. He averages a 52.2% in wins over a 4 year period so far playing center for BC, but has had experience playing wing. Gives us more center depth. McBain's JEE's backup center. Gives us more depth and cushion.

This shows us about McBain's physical presence on the forecheck. Notice he uses his shoulder to assert his power? If this were Greenway most of the time he'll use his stick. It ended up leading to a goal from fellow prospect Nikita Nesterenko. Starting at 1:11.

McBain on the forecheck and scoring a beauty off of it. He crashed the net and didn't think twice about getting hit because he's a truck on skates much like JEE. If you continue watching McBain shows his physical play again causing turnovers on the forecheck. He then capitalizes in the slot on a beautiful setup play. McBain's displaying his physical ability and scoring touch. BC's PP goal they scored McBain took vision away from the goalie. He scored another goal, but first he was on the forecheck displaying puck protection and going to work. He can play the role of a goal scorer too. He's the real deal. McBain will form a stronger bond with JEE and Foligno and fits in perfectly.

I see Guerin signing McBain once his senior year ends to a 2-year ELC. The Great Bane Jack McBain will be a stud. He'll give you a chance to score shorthanded too. He'll do everything for you. I don't want to hear Nick Bjugstad comparisons neither! I see JEE being a good mentor for McBain in his NHL career in the long-run. Foligno's older. He'll be a great mentor, but JEE will be here long term.

The opinions posted here are not those of Hockey Wilderness.