It is hard not to notice Mike McCarron when he is on the ice during a St. John’s IceCaps game. The 6-foot-6, 231-pound forward simply towers over much of his competition at the AHL level. It is not often to see a player with his size have the hands and abilities with the puck that he possesses, and it is that rare combination of size and skill that led the Montreal Canadiens to draft McCarron with their first round pick (25th overall) in 2013.
In his first season of professional hockey in the Canadiens organization, McCarron burst onto the scene with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in his first 21 games.
“The transition here was pretty smooth, but I’ve been put in a good situation in St John’s with a lot of opportunities,” McCarron recalled of his hot start during the AHL All-Star break.
It wasn’t long after his hot start to the season that McCarron was called up by Montreal, where he made his NHL debut on the team’s road trip to the Midwest. After seeing his first NHL action in Dallas against the Stars and Nashville two nights later, it was back to the AHL for McCarron after the Christmas break.
Since then, it has been tough sledding offensively for McCarron as he has tallied just four points – all assists – in his 15 AHL games since being returned from Montreal. As is the case for most first-year pros, there are ups and downs, peaks and valleys.
“I think the biggest struggle is the games are one night after another, and it keeps rolling,” McCarron said. “It plays mind tricks on you and you just have to stick with it and find it within yourself to bring it every night.”
Still, McCarron has fit in with the IceCaps’ forward core nicely, complementing the many undersized and speedy forwards in Montreal’s system.
“They get the puck to the net and I’ll be at the net, so I think it’s a team effort and we all complement each other well,” McCarron said, adding, “I think our team is heading in the right direction.”
The IceCaps currently sit in fifth place in the North Division, tied with the Syracuse Crunch at 47 points as the teams return from the All-Star break for the stretch run. Besides better adapting himself to the pro-style game, McCarron knows exactly what aspects of his game he needs to continue working on if he wants to make the jump to the NHL full-time.
“I have to work on my speed and my consistency. Those two things – you can’t come into the NHL without them,” McCarron said. “Consistency in just bringing it every night, so that’s what I want to bring to the table and what I want to work on most.”
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