As the end of the 2009-10 season approached for the Carolina Hurricanes, the playoffs were clearly out of reach. While team management and fans alike were disappointed by unsatisfactory results, the rebuilding process allowed for several prospects to get the chance to prove their worth in the National Hockey League. One of these young men was defenseman Jamie McBain.
A native of Minnesota, McBain was called up on March 16th from the American Hockey League. In his first ever NHL game, the University of Wisconsin product contributed to both of the Hurricanes’ tallies, scoring a goal and notching an assist in a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. While his 19:42 of ice time was incredibly high for a player making his NHL debut, that would be the least amount of TOI he would receive the rest of the season.
Generally, a prospect will be eased into a role when they get called up to an NHL club. Coaches will tell these young men to take things slow, get adjusted, and not get frustrated by a steep learning curve. This was not the case for McBain.
At the young age of 22, McBain was given every opportunity to prove that he belonged with the Hurricanes; not just as an up and coming prospect, but as a mainstay on the blueline. During his brief 14 game stint in Raleigh, McBain was a +6, and put up stats similar to elite offensive-minded defensemen.
After being called up to the NHL, McBain racked up 10 points (3 G, 7 A). Over the course of 82 games, that pace would give the 22 year old 58 points. To put Jamie’s performance in perspective, 58 points would have been one less than Drew Doughty produced, and would have placed him fourth in the league in scoring by a defenseman.
Although McBain may not be a household name just yet, the young defenseman could become one of the most important players on Carolina’s entire roster as early as this season. With training camp underway and pre-season set to start tomorrow, McBain has every opportunity to continue his success with the Hurricanes.
While the first few games of the young Minnesotan’s career went well, they were during meaningless spring games. With Carolina ready to compete again, McBain will have to prove to the hockey world that he can succeed when it matters. But if the end of last year was any indication, the Hurricanes could have a phenomenal young defenseman waiting in the wings.