VOORHEES, N.J. – The journey this season for Tye McGinn has been circuitous – and that’s putting it nicely.
And he knows the road will continue to wind with various hurdles and pitfalls along the way – but for now, he’s going just enjoy where he’s at, because it’s pretty lofty spot.
McGinn is currently situated as the Flyers top line left wing. For a guy who was considered one of the longest of shots to make the roster last summer, to end up where he is now is a testament to the hard work of a fifth round draft pick.
Granted, he is partly there because of injuries to top tier power forwards Scott Hartnell (fractured foot) and Wayne Simmonds (concussion), and partly because he plays the same style as the injured players, but it also has a lot to do with his earning the spot with his play – at all levels.
“He’s done a really nice job since he’s been here,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I got a chance to watch him a little bit in the minors and I thought his training camp was real strong.
“With guys out of the lineup there’s always a chance for opportunity and he’s practiced well in training camp and regular practices and in games he’s played well. He’s a big body that can make some space out there and he’s done a nice job.”
Originally a fifth round pick in the 2010 draft (149th overall), McGinn, 22, has developed more rapidly than even the Flyers imagined.
After being selected, MCGinn played one more year of junior hockey with Gatineau in the QMJHL before joining the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL last season.
With a lockout wiping out the first three-plus months of this season, McGinn had a second stint with the Phantoms, but the growth from last season to this season was exponential.
McGinn became a true presence in the front of the net. He skates hard, has a nose for the puck and keeps shifts alive in the offensive end.
“He’s been a lot of fun to play with,” said Danny Briere, who flipped wings to allow McGinn to get more time on the left side, where he is most comfortable. “He’s a big body who makes a lot of room for us.
“My first game with him was actually in Tampa. We had a terrible game as a team, but I remember leaving that game and saying to a few of the other guys, ‘This kid can play…’ I was very impressed the first time I had a chance to play with him. Even after Wayne got hurt in Washington and the last game – Claude too – we really liked the chemistry that formed quickly between us. Hopefully we can keep that going.”
McGinn is an aggressive player who wins a lot of puck battles on the wall, which is what creates the room for Briere and Giroux – and therefore creates better offensive chances.
It shouldn’t surprise that Giroux and Briere each scored and had an assist playing with McGinn after struggling previously.
McGinn, however, deflects the accolades back onto the skill of his linemates.
“It’s something cool,” he said. “They’re great players and I’m just happy to play with them. I just play my game, work hard, get the puck to them or get it deep and just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
That McGinn finds himself on that top line is just the latest in the whirlwind season for him.
He was a bit of an unexpected invite to training camp, coming off his fine performance with the Phantoms. He didn’t make the team out of camp though, and was sent back to the Phantoms.
However, after the opening weekend, McGinn was recalled, replacing Zac Rinaldo who was injured in Buffalo in the second game of the season.
He waffled between the third and fourth lines for a few games before being a healthy scratch in New York last week.
He was reinserted in the lineup Friday in Washington, and after the Simmonds injury made his way onto the top line and top power play unit.
And while his stay in this lineup position is far from permanent, it’s definitely one he is relishing and hopes not to relinquish any time soon.
“It’s been up and down this season, but it’s been a great journey for me,” he said. “The organization has been nothing but positive to me and I’m just trying to do my best to contribute back to the Flyers.”
So far, so good.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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