Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
In case y'all missed it (or forgot,) Buffalo Sabres forward Jamie McGinn was a part of the franchise-altering events that took place on draft-day, 2015. With Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly and Robin Lehner grabbing all of the headlines that day, McGinn (as well as David Legwand) were kind of lost in the shuffle, but it looks as if he'll play a significant role on the team at least for this season.
The depth-chart on the right side is missing one viable top-six candidate. Up-top at right wing is Tyler Ennis, who's just entering his prime. Ennis has had consistent production despite being moved around and in spite of the fact that the last two seasons he was on an historically bad Buffalo Sabres team. Behind him is a plethora of players more suited to a top-nine role but, because of a hole on the right side, might stretch into a top-six role.
Captain Brian Gionta, a natural right winger, could be slotted in here, but there's a better role for him and it's one of the reasons McGinn might be a better fit on a line featuring Eichel and Zemgus Girgensons.
Back in the day NHL lines featured three players all with the same skill-level who found chemistry and just tortured the opposition--"The French Connection" in Buffalo, "Legion of Doom" in Philly and "West Coast Express" out in Vancouver. But times have changed. The line-building consensus these days has two gifted players and one complimentary one. Eichel and Girgensons are fast, aggressive players who can find open ice, can set-up and score. Although they can both work the corners well and are not afraid of the dirty areas, a self-described "bump-and-grinder" like McGinn can cycle the puck well and wreak some havoc in the opposition zone might be an ideal player to create opportunities for his linemates as well as himself.
McGinn, like many of the players Sabres GM Tim Murray has assembled, has a real high hockey IQ and an intense compete level plus he has plenty of speed to keep up with Eichel and Girgensons. He's an all-situations player who isn't just a defensive specialist as proven by his 19-goal season two years ago while with the Colorado Avalanche and his 20-goal season split between the San Jose' Sharks and the Avalanch.
While in Colorado McGinn started the 2013-14 season on a line with rookie Nathan MacKinnon and PA Parenteau. Later in the season he McGinn found himself on the second line with MacKinnon and O'Reilly so playing with top-notch talent is not foreign to him. After failing to hit the scoresheet for two games after Colorado acquired him in 2012, McGinn followed with seven goals and added two assists in a six-game span.
At this point in time it's anybody's guess as to who will fill in the top-six after Evander Kane, O'Reilly, Ennis and Eichel, but a versatile veteran like McGinn isn't a bad choice. From Ryan Murphy of SB Nation's Mile High Hockey (via Die By the Blade's Andy Boron,) "McGinn, on a good team, is a 3rd line right wing. That said, he hasn't looked a bit out of place playing on top lines when called upon." Murphy points out that McGinn's biggest problem might be staying healthy as last season he played in only 19 games for the 'Lanche after back surgery.
McGinn is in the final year of a two-year contract that will pay him $3M this season. The 27 yr. old is smack-dab in his prime and an exceptional season could mean a fairly lucrative, long-term contract.
Building the Buffalo Sabres 2015-16 roster:
LW, Evander Kane C, Ryan O'Reilly RW, Tyler Ennis
LW, Zemgus Girgensons, C, Jack Eichel, RW, Jamie McGinn
D, Rasmus Ristolainen D, Zach Bogosian
G, Robin Lehner