When Brett McLean signed with the Florida Panthers this past summer, poolies didn’t blink an eye. In fact, fantasy owners still haven’t noticed him.
(Originally posted by The Hockey News on March 17)
And why should they? McLean has never been on the fantasy radar. He was a late-round pick in 1997 – at 242nd overall, it doesn’t get much later. He was never a top prospect in Dallas’s (the team that drafted him) system – not once did he get a mention in THN’s Future Watch.
With 293 points in 191 games in his final three years in the Western League, McLean should have had more respect. However, it was said he wasn’t strong enough and lacked intensity due to disappointing post-seasons at every level.
Somehow, he got into the NHL though, albeit as a third- or fourth-liner, and by 2003 he was there full-time. After three complete seasons posting between 31 and 40 points, the 29-year-old joined the Panthers and will once again produce in that range.
That’s where things get interesting. You see, McLean has really meshed on the first line with Olli Jokinen and Rostislav Olesz. He has posted 24 points in his past 24 games and has five consecutive two-point efforts.
Is he an underrated player who was never given a chance? Or is he, indeed, a third-line checker who is clicking with Florida’s best player, a la Chris Clark with Alex Ovechkin?
We won’t find out the answer until next season, but I’m cautiously putting him down for a career-high 55 points and the potential for 10 or 15 more…
Farm Report: There is another Brett MacLean – note the ‘a’ – about to make a big splash in the NHL. The Phoenix Coyotes’ prospect is tearing it up in his last season in the Ontario League. His 100 points in 68 contests for the Oshawa Generals in 2006-07 was somewhat attributed to teammate John Tavares. The ‘Yotes drafted him 32nd overall in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft and he responded with 119 points in 61 games for Oshawa this year. That’s two more points and 21 more goals than Tavares. It’s no secret Phoenix has a bright future up the middle with Peter Mueller, Kyle Turris and Martin Hanzal, so this team needs wingers who can put the puck in the net. MacLean can do that in spades. He’ll challenge for a roster spot in the fall, although he is likely two years away. He could be a 40-goal scorer in the NHL some day.
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