In this edition of the HW Mailbag, we take a look back while forecasting the
future at the same time. Was the decision to send Michael McCarron to the
OHL the right one? Is Jarred Tinordi ready to be a full-time NHL’er?
Should Marc Bergevin be prioritizing an extension for Norris winner P.K. Subban
over the next few weeks? Our writers offer up their thoughts on each of
1) Did the Habs make the right decision sending 1st round pick Michael
McCarron to the OHL or would he have been better suited playing in the NCAA?
Matt Dilworth: Only time will tell if it was the right decision
to have Michael McCarron play in the NHL this year, but in terms of his
development, I am in favour of the OHL route. Since both options feature great
coaches, we have to see what is more likely to prepare McCarron for the NHL; as
the OHL’s schedule features more games, it should better facilitate the
transition to pro hockey. Although this means that McCarron’s schedule will be
more gruelling and that he will likely miss out on some gym time, I think
McCarron’s physical readiness will suit him well, and he will develop
nonetheless. Finally, the London Knights are a well-respected and successful
club, so McCarron should see his fair share of important games, something that
won’t be likely to occur in the NCAA.
Brian La Rose: Having the luxury of compiling all the
responses, I’m going to change my original one just to provide a different point
of view (but London was my preference).
The college route has a reputation of being more of a developmental league
when it comes to individual skill and conditioning. In terms of the
latter, McCarron doesn’t need to put on much more weight (compared to Mark
MacMillan, a fellow prospect going the NCAA way) but there is still some work to
be done there. His potential coach in Andy Murray (a longtime NHL bench
boss, one more than comparable to Dale Hunter) figures his ideal playing weight
is about 10-15 lbs above where he is now. A short-term stint at Western
Michigan would give him a better shot of getting to that target compared to
London. As for skill development, the Knights are loaded for next year.
GM Mark Hunter can say all he wants during the offseason that he could be a
front liner but there’s a decent chance that he falls in the bottom six as well.
At WMU, McCarron would have seen a lot of top six ice time on a not-as-deep
team, which would have ensured ample time to work on his offensive game.
He may still get that with the Knights, but it’s not as guaranteed as it would
have been in college.
Norm Szcyrek: While the Habs technically didn’t make the
decision where McCarron would play this fall, I’m sure their preference was for
him to go to London, since Canadian major junior leagues have helped the
majority of prospects develop quicker to become NHL players. There were many
factors in McCarron’s decision. The Knights have had an excellent hockey program
in recent years due to brothers Mark and Dale Hunter who coach, GM, and own the
franchise. Both are former NHL players who’ve helped several players get to the
NHL, including the Habs’ own Jarred Tinordi. London is close to McCarron’s home,
less than a 2 1/2 hour drive for the Michigan native, which is a big incentive;
although a car trip to WMU would be nearly as close. London is the host for the
Memorial Cup in 2014, and with top Knights forwards Max Domi and Bo Horvat also
first round picks this year, McCarron stands a great chance to become their
Moshé Weizman: A definitive yes; I do think playing in Canada
as opposed to the U.S., no matter the context, simply gives you a better feel of
what being a professional hockey player would mean, especially when you’re a 1st
round draft pick with a club like Montreal. Second, the Knights have a history
of doing a great job with numerous talents in recent years, Jarred Tinordi is
one example of a player going from the Knights to the NHL. In the OHL, McCarron
will play more games and will get much more exposure (the Knights host the 2014
2) In your opinion, is Jarred Tinordi ready to be a full-time NHL’er?
Matt Dilworth: Tinordi has acquitted himself at the NHL level
quite well thus far, so it’s not too much of a stretch to consider him ready to
be a full-time NHL’er. Despite what he has shown, I don’t believe that he’s
ready to be a factor at the NHL level at the time of this writing, so I wouldn’t
be opposed to Tinordi playing some more tough minutes for Hamilton this season.
That being said, with the injury to Emelin and Bergevin’s seeming reluctance to
bring in a replacement, it seems that Tinordi will pull on a Habs jersey this
fall. I predict that he will be able to play capable minutes, but I think that
anyone hoping for Tinordi to play a legit top-4 role is being overly optimistic.
Brian La Rose: Tinordi has played all of 13 career NHL games,
or the equivalent of one month. I can’t sit here and say that based on
that sample size that he’s ready to be a full-timer. I think another half
a year in the AHL would be ideal. Look back to his junior career, he took
big steps forward in terms of his physical play and his overall skill in his
second season. The two biggest concerns about his rookie campaign in
Hamilton were that his overall skills were still quite raw and he wasn’t as tough
as many would have liked. If he gets to spend regular time back there this
year, I have no doubts that recent history can repeat itself and that it will
make him more ready to be an impact NHL’er moving forward instead of a third
pairing player, the role he’ll most likely hold down while stepping in for
Alexei Emelin at the beginning of the year.
Norm Szcyrek: I believe Jarred Tinordi is right on the bubble
of becoming an NHL regular this season. He may start the season as the team’s #7
defenceman since the injury to Alexei Emelin’s knee will not be recovered by the
start of the season in October.
Moshé Weizman: Yes and he already proved it in his last stretch
with the Habs last year, being by far, the most effective prospect brought on
for a test run by the team during the season. He’s big, strong, physical,
changes opponents’ play and presence around the net and most importantly, an
addition the Habs can’t simply overlook. He also made a maturity mark last year
making him an important part of the future of this franchise and these parts are
hard to find.
3) Should Marc Bergevin pursue a contract extension with P.K. Subban prior to
the beginning of the 2013-14 season?
Matt Dilworth: I would hope that talks between the two parties
begin as soon as possible. With a Norris trophy under his belt, I think Subban’s
value is quite evident, and I see no sense in delaying the inevitable. P.K. is
going to cost a pretty penny no matter when he signs, and it’d be nice to avoid
any potential drama that contract negotiations will likely bring. As I don’t
anticipate that P.K.’s play will change for the worse once he signs his big
contract, I look forward to the day that he signs a long-term deal with the
Brian La Rose: If the Habs look to sign him now, Subban has all
of the leverage coming off of a Norris season and a perceived likely Olympic berth.
If they wait, there’s a risk he signs an offer sheet but he demonstrated last
time he wasn’t willing to sign one and even if he did, it would have to be
excessively high for management to ponder not matching as he’s likely to surpass
Andrei Markov as the highest paid d-man in franchise history already. I
don’t think that’s all that great of a risk to take. The Habs aren’t going
to get much, if any more, of a discount if they sign him next week or a year
from now so they may as well wait unless they get a deal too good to pass up.
That’s not to say that Marc Bergevin shouldn’t investigate what it would take
but it’s not a must-sign now situation.
Norm Szcyrek: It would be in the Canadiens’ best interest for
Marc Bergevin to negotiate an extension as soon as possible. Subban has proven
he is now a franchise player, so it’s time to treat him like one. Even though
Subban will still be an RFA after this season’s contract expires, it would be to
everyone’s advantage to keep Subban happy and in the Habs fold for many years to
Moshé Weizman: Not necessarily.., although i wouldn’t take it
further than next year’s Olympic break.
P.K. has shown signs of impressive maturity during last season, regardless of
his play on the ice which rewarded him with the franchises’ first Norris trophy
in more than 20 years. The issue with waiting too much is simply the focus that
this will get as times goes by, possibly in a playoff run or bad/good stretches
the team may be living at that specific moment in time. P.K. is just too big and
too important to even give him the time to think about ‘what if…?’ which will
possibly take his mind off hockey at a time the team will need him the most. So
I say – no risk, sign him ASAP, but no later than midseason.