2007-08: Chris McCarthy left Pennsylvania to play prep school hockey at the Berkshire School in Massachusetts, repeating his sophomore year of school, and participated in USA Hockey's Select 17 Festival. In 29 games he scored 19 goals with 18 assists and 12 penalty minutes. Berkshire finished 21-9-2; losing to eventual New England prep champion Avon Old Farms, 5-4 in overtime in the tournament quarterfinals. McCarthy was selected by Waterloo in the sixth round (51st overall) of the 2008 USHL Draft. He was the leading scorer at the Select 17 Festival in July and committed to playing college hockey at Boston College in 2010-11.
2008-09: McCarthy was selected to participate in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan and skated for the NTDP's U18 and U17 teams. Shifting from center to the winger position, in 51 games with the U18 team, including nine USHL playoff games, he scored 11 goals with 16 assists and was +4 with 26 penalty minutes. In 17 games with the NTDP U17 team he had 4 assists and 22 penalty minutes. McCarthy missed part of the season due to a shoulder injury. He was ranked 140th amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting's final rankings prior to the 2009 NHL Draft but was not selected.
2009-10: Originally slated to spend the season in the USHL before heading to Boston College the following season, McCarthy de-committed from BC in July and enrolled at the University of Vermont. He skated in 35 games for the Catamounts as a freshman. McCarthy scored 6 goals with 11 assists and was an even plus/minus with 23 penalty minutes. Vermont finished eighth in a tight Hockey East race but received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after reaching the Hockey East semifinals. The Catamounts lost to eventual national champion Boston College, 3-0, in the Hockey East semifinals and lost to Wisconsin, 3-2, in the NCAA West Regional.
2010-11: McCarthy skated in all 36 games for Vermont in his sophomore season. The second-leading scorer for a Catamounts team that scored 82 goals the entire season, he scored 8 goals with 12 assists and was -14 with 20 penalty minutes. Vermont finished seventh in Hockey East and was swept by second-place New Hampshire in the league quarterfinals.
2011-12: Named an assistant captain prior to the season, McCarthy scored 1 goal with 3 assists in five games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
2012-13: McCarthy attended the San Jose Sharks' summer development camp before returning to Vermont for his senior season. An assistant captain for the Catamounts, he led Vermont with 13 goals and 18 assists in 36 games and was +4 with 10 penalty minutes. Vermont finished seventh in Hockey East and was swept by second-place Boston College in the conference quarterfinals.
2013-14: McCarthy made his pro hockey debut in April with the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack after signing a two-year entry-level contract with the New York Rangers on March 31st, 2014. He scored 1 goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes in eight games for Hartford. Granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA due to his injury in 2011-12, McCarthy returned to the University of Vermont after attending the Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp. Named a team captain, he led the Catamounts in scoring for the second straight season. McCarthy scored 18 goals with 43 assists and was +16 with 12 penalty minutes. Vermont finished tied with Notre Dame for seventh in Hockey East but received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after losing a three-game series to first-place Massachusetts-Lowell in the Hockey East tournament. National champion Union College defeated Vermont, 5-2, in the NCAA East regional.
The Rangers signed McCarthy to a two-year entry-level contract on March 31st, 2014.