2009-10: John McCarron skated in 58 games for the Lincoln Stars in his first full season in the USHL. After scoring two goals in 19 games with the Stars in 2008-09, McCarron chipped in offensively and was a physical force on a Stars team that finished with the USHL’s second-worst record and was last in the West Division. McCarron finished the season with 7 goals and 19 assists and was minus-10 with 114 penalty minutes.
2010-11: McCarron was the second-leading scorer for Lincoln as the Stars were one of the USHL’s big turnaround stories – finishing fourth in the West Division. In 60 games he scored a team-leading 24 goals with 33 assists and was plus-11 with 113 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, Lincoln was swept by Fargo in a two-game playoff series and McCarron was scoreless and minus-three with 4 penalty minutes. He committed to playing college hockey at Cornell in 2011-12. McCarron went undrafted in the 2011 NHL Draft in his second year of eligibility.
2011-12: McCarron steadily increased his productivity in his first year at Cornell – skating in 35 games as a freshman. Playing on a line with fellow freshman Joel Lowry, a Kings prospect, and senior Sean Collins, McCarron scored five of his six goals after January, including a goal against Michigan in the Big Red’s NCAA tournament win, and had 13 assists; finishing plus-1 with 61 penalty minutes for the season. Cornell finished second in the ECAC Hockey League and won the conference’s consolation game in the playoffs. After defeating Michigan the Big Red were knocked off 2-1 by eventual NCAA runner-up Ferris State in the Midwest Regional final. McCarron was not among the 210 North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings but was selected by Edmonton in the 6th round (153rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
2012-13: McCarron played in 33 of 34 games for Cornell as a sophomore. Primarily teamed with senior winger John Esposito on the second and third lines for the Big Red, he scored 7 goals with 12 assists and was an even plus/minus with a team-high 99 penalty minutes. Cornell finished tied for ninth in ECAC Hockey but was 4-1-1 in its final six regular season games and pushed first place Quinnipiac to three games in the conference quarterfinals after sweeping Princeton in a preliminary series. McCarron had a goal and an assist in the Princeton series and had an assist in the win over Quinnipiac.
2013-14: McCarron was named a team captain and skated in 32 games for Cornell in his junior season. Frequently teamed with left wing Joel Lowry (Los Angeles) on the Big Red’s top line, he and Lowry finished tied with defenseman Joakim Ryan (San Jose) for second on the team with 24 points behind Bruins’ prospect Brian Ferlin. He scored 7 goals with 17 assists and was +4 with 43 penalty minutes. Cornell finished fourth in ECAC Hockey and defeated Clarkson in a three-game quarterfinal series before falling to eventual national champion Union, 5-2, in the ECAC Hockey semifinals.
McCarron is a big body forward that plays a smart game, uses his size well and has the physicality down low near the opponent's net. He does not have a big offensive upside but his defensively responsible game and ability to play both ends of the ice suggest some potential as a two-way forward.
McCarron is in his senior year at Cornell in 2014-15. His offensive production has dipped in his final college season — no doubt in part due to a season-ending back injury suffered by linemate Joel Lowry in January 2015. McCarron must be signed by the Oilers by August 2015 or would become an unrestricted free agent. In terms of his NHL potential, his size, physicality and defensive awareness suggest he can be valuable in a lower line role. More than that would be a bonus at this time.