It won’t take until the eve of training camp for Michael McCarron to be signed for the upcoming season as the Habs announced that they have re-signed him to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $700,000 in the NHL and $125,000 in the AHL with a total guaranteed salary of $150,000. That means that McCarron took less than his NHL qualifying offer in order to get a larger guaranteed payday.
The 2013 first-round pick has largely disappointed thus far. While the Canadiens were hoping that he could become an impact power forward, that has yet to be the case. His offensive development has largely been stagnant which has made him strictly an option for the fourth line when he has had opportunities with Montreal in the past.
Last season, McCarron cleared waivers early in training camp and was sent to AHL Laval. He actually showed some promising signs at times while in a top-six role and posted a respectable 21 points in 34 games before a shoulder injury ended his campaign prematurely. Clearly, management saw enough to give him one more chance.
That opportunity will almost certainly come with the Rocket once again, assuming he clears waivers in training camp which is a likely scenario. Montreal’s forward depth is one of their strengths and he’s not even among the first group of players that would likely be considered for recalls if someone gets hurt. (Youngsters Jake Evans, Ryan Poehling, and Nick Suzuki, as well as veterans Phil Varone and Riley Barber, are all ahead of him on the depth chart.) Nonetheless, McCarron will get one more crack to make an impression. At 24, this is probably going to be his last chance to do with the Canadiens.
The Habs now have 48 players under contract for next season out of the limit of 50. If they want to add anyone else, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Marc Bergevin try to make a trade to clear a contract slot to allow them to have some in-season flexibility for other acquisitions.