Jared McCann has less things to worry about these days.
He can concentrate more on goal scoring production and less on real estate.
“We found a place just outside Kirkland,” McCann told 93.3 KJR-FM. “Great area, really quiet, and it’s kind of hidden so it’s nice.”
It’s a luxury the 26-year old forward can afford a house now with long term security, something he vowed to purchase following his five-year, $25 million extension signed toward the end of last season. Struggling to consistently reach the 20-goal plateau through the first six years of his NHL career, another chance of scenery, third since being selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round back in 2014, is what’s helped blast the doors down.
The result: a 27-goal season to lead the Kraken last year, elevating his game as a bona fide goal scorer in the NHL which mirrors his dynamic communication skills: quick, direct, and engaged.
“He’s a big piece to that puzzle,” head coach Dave Hakstol said, who has enjoyed McCann and improved depth rank in the upper half of goal scoring per game, a stark improvement from last year.
“He’s obviously a really effective player and really effective to our power play, in the spot that he plays in. But he’s also a really important player to us in a two-way sense, as a winger for our hockey team.
McCann has been shifted to a line recently with Matty Beniers and Jordan Eberle, in the wake of returning from a three-game absence due to a lower body injury in early November. He played in a stretch covering six of seven games with Yanni Gourde, whom McCann complimented as a productive linemate for his trademark brand of energy and abrasiveness.
After that: back to familiar faces, playing alongside start-of-the-season linemate Matty Beniers and as well, one from last season, with Jordan Eberle.
“He and ‘Ebs’ have a history together,” said Hakstol. “When we put those two guys back together, a little bit of focus comes when you shift wingers. He and Ebs have had a lot of success together, regardless of who’ve they’ve played with. The matchup and paring with Matty up the middle make a lot of sense.”
No denying it. Eberle has five points in three games since the reunion. McCann is headed into the middle of the week with goals in back-to-back games while notching his 100th career goal on Saturday against the Kings (coincidentally, in the 100th game in Kraken history).
He leads the Kraken with seven goals, which at this rate would compute to a 36-goal campaign, shattering last season’s previous career-high.
“I’m just feeling like I’m getting a good opportunity to shoot the puck,” said McCann, who has more support this season with the additions of leading point-getter Andre Burakovsky, the offensive toolkit of Oliver Bjorkstrand, and a full season of Calder Trophy hopeful Matty Beniers.
“Obviously the power play is going well for us, and we need to keep that going.”
Ryan Donato, who has become close with McCann since the two arrived together to open the box for an expansion team last year, said he knew of McCann as a player prior to last year, but not much else. That’s changed over time, when the bench’s pulse now elevates when McCann catches a pass flush on the tape, cruising to the net from the left circle, and ready to uncork a trademark wrist shot.
It led to the long term plan, to have McCann fully involved for five years.
“Seeing for me, how hard he really worked last year, he scored a lot of big goals for us, played a lot of different situations and doing the same this year – it just shows they made the right decision,” said Donato. “I’m happy for him as a teammate and as a friend.”
For a guy who says he enjoys long term stability – for the first time, or “something I haven’t had in my career,” he knows what to say to the former rookie who wore #91 for the Canucks, if he could hypothetically travel back in time.
“There’s a lot I’d tell myself,” McCann said, who flashed a noticeable grin as he delivered his answer.
“The way you carry yourself, and the way you have to treat your body.”