London Knights head coach Dale Hunter wasn’t surprised that Canadiens first round draft pick Michael McCarron was having trouble adapting to the Ontario Hockey League. He had seen it all before with first Patrick Kane and then Jarred Tinordi, both of whom like McCarron had struggled after coming out of the US Under-18 Development Team to the OHL as highly regarded prospects.
McCarron, who was taken 25th overall in June, scored a goal in his first game for the Knights and then didn’t get another goal for 18 games, including the entire month of October. By mid December he had four goals and ten points prompting Hunter to tell the London Free Press “Any time you come into a league like this, it’s a step up, and it is from his league last year. It takes a while to get a feel for the league. Same thing as Tinordi. Remember how he took some time, then got rolling.”
He was still struggling and a fixture on the Knights fourth line when team management made two important moves. First they made a trade with the Owen Sound Attack for right winger and Dallas draft pick Gemel Smith. Then on January 24th, they moved the 6’6” McCarron from right wing to centre and with another veteran junior Brett Walychka on the other wing, the Knights instantly had a potent third line. McCarron had a goal and 4 assists their first three games together. Over the last 12 games he has 6 goals, 6 assists and a plus-10 rating. The line has scored 16 goals and the Knights have won 11 of the last 12 games and now have the third best overall record in the OHL.
At this time McCarron has a four game point streak going in which he’s scored four goals and 2 assists and is plus-8. “The coaches want to work with me on faceoffs. We’ve got Bo (Horvat) and (Chris) Tierney as left-handed centremen who are really good at faceoffs and they want a strong, right-handed centreman that can win draws. They’re working with me so I can be a strong force at the dot. It’s something I worked on every week since I became a centre. I like it. It’s fun.”
It will probably be three years before we see McCarron close to being a Montreal Canadien, but the thought of a potential 6’6”right shot at centre ice for the Habs is enough to make anyone’s mouth water.