The Max Pacioretty trade wasn’t Montreal’s only piece of business on Monday. The team announced that Michael McCarron has inked a one-year, two-way deal at the value of his qualifying offer.
Last season wasn’t a particularly good one for the 2013 first rounder. He struggled with Laval, scoring just seven times in 54 games which isn’t good output considering he was often on the second line. He also had discipline issues, spending 121 minutes in the penalty box.
Things weren’t any better in Montreal. He had just a single assist in 18 games while averaging just 8:46 per night. Most nights, he was a very ineffective fourth liner.
That McCarron ultimately wound up taking his qualifying offer isn’t entirely surprising. What is surprising is that it took more than seven weeks past the expiration of the offer for him to actually take it. The deal gives him a slightly higher NHL salary ($874,125) which is enticing to him if he believes he can stick with the big club on a full-time basis. Considering comments he has made in the past, he likely feels that’s the case, especially since he has to go through waivers to go back to the minors. That makes taking the same AHL salary as last year ($70,000) isn’t a big risk for him.
However, it’s hard to imagine McCarron cracking the roster when everyone is healthy, let alone the lineup. The return of Tomas Plekanec and the addition of Matthew Peca gives Montreal more depth down the middle and would likely push McCarron to the wing. However, the Habs have a lot of depth on the wings so there isn’t a clear spot there for him either.
With Paul Byron questionable to start the season and Andrew Shaw likely out, there could be an end-of-roster spot for McCarron in the short-term. If he wants to prolong his stay past that though, he’ll need to show a whole lot more in training camp.