July 15th represented the deadline for qualifying offers to be accepted before they expired and for the second straight year, it came and went without Michael McCarron signing a new contract.
It took until the day before training camp for the 24-year-old to sign last season at an amount that happened to match the qualifying offer. On the surface, it appears as if the two sides could be heading down that road again.
It’s strange to see that agreeing to a contract appears to be a challenge for the two sides. McCarron is clearly not in the mix for an NHL roster spot next season. He cleared waivers quite early in camp last year and while he had some good moments in Laval, he also missed a big chunk of the season due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. His stint with the Rocket clearly wasn’t enough to make teams think he’s ready to step into a full-time NHL spot, particularly as it transitions towards more speed on the fourth line.
To be honest, it’s hard to understand why a qualifying offer was even tendered at this point. With the forward depth the team possesses, McCarron appears to be earmarked for a bottom six spot with the Rocket. Cutting bait would have given him a chance to catch on elsewhere and give the Habs a much-needed contract slot. They’re already at 46 players under contract with McCarron and Charles Hudon making that 48 when they sign.
(Speaking of Hudon, his qualifying offer technically expired as well but considering he filed for arbitration – something McCarron could have done – it really wasn’t under consideration.)
As for McCarron, the smarter move for him at this point would be for him to take less money in the NHL in exchange for a higher salary in the minors. While it would guarantee him more than his qualifying offer, it would also make him more appealing if he believes another NHL team would take a run at giving him a roster spot. In the meantime, it appears the waiting game will continue.