The Montreal Canadiens 2013 first round draft pick, Michael McCarron, was cut from the United States World Junior Summer Development Camp roster this afternoon. The comparisons to Milan Lucic seemed like a reach at the time he was drafted, but seem to be an impossible expectation for McCarron today.
The American winger is 6’6” and nearly 240 pounds. His size, compared with the fact the Habs took him with the 25th pick in the 2013 first round, had fans drooling over his combination of size and skill. The size remains, but the skill side of McCarron’s game still has a long way to go before he reminds anyone of Lucic.
McCarron has played one year in the Ontario Hockey League with the London Knights, and will enter his final year of Junior hockey with London this season. He scored 34 points in 66 games on a very deep team that hosted the Memorial Cup in May. McCarron, like most of his Knights teammates, looked flat at the short tournament, and the first round pick missed a big opportunity to impress scouts and fans in front of a large audience for the first time in his career.
I thought he would get a chance to redeem himself over the holiday season, but Team USA has already decided McCarron will not be a member of the World Jr team. It seems like a major disappointment that a recent first round pick is not good enough to crack his nation’s World Junior team, but McCarron will be far from the first top prospect to get cut from this tournament.
Just last year, Henrik Samuelsson who was taken with the 27th pick in the 2012 draft was left off Team USA, but still recorded 95 points for the Edmonton Oil Kings, and looks to be a big time prospect for the Arizona Coyotes.
When McCarron was drafted it was hoped, but should not have been realistically expected that he would dominate the OHL offensively during his first season with the Knights. He didn’t, and won’t suit up at a World Junior Tournament in his career, but it is far too early to label the massive winger a bust.
First of all, it is not as if McCarron is supposed to be a slick offensive wizard who is not scoring many points. He is a 6’6” beast who uses his size well to protect pucks and play a down low cycle game that wears out opponents. This makes him a very valuable role player developing for the future, but not the type of player that endears himself to a deep hockey country like America at a short World Junior Tournament.
If it were Alex Galchenyuk that failed to score enough to crack his World Junior team, I would be worried, but McCarron is a much different player. The World Junior Tournament is just not a very physical game, making McCarron’s enormous frame less desirable there than it will be when he turns pro next season.
The fact he was cut may be a mild disappointment, but does not mean McCarron is a waste of a first round pick. The day he was selected he was labeled a long term project by Canadiens Director of Amateur Scouting Trevor Timmins, and the same can be said today, as we are just one year removed from the day he was selected.
With a bigger opportunity on a less stacked London Knights team, McCarron will be able to develop the offensive side of his game slowly this season, and still has a few years with the Hamilton Bulldogs in his future before he ever makes his mark on the Montreal Canadiens.
It is always fun watching the Canadiens best prospects representing their country on a massive stage for teenagers and seeing how they handle the spotlight for the first time in their careers. We won’t get to see McCarron on that stage this winter, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing a lot of him in the future with the Montreal Canadiens.