Tag: David Desharnais

Michael McCarron

Looking to make the leap: Michael McCarron

Michael McCarron will be playing professional hockey next year.

The question is where.

According to Habs GM Marc Bergevin, McCarron — Montreal’s first-round pick (25th overall) in 2013 — will likely start the season with the club’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s.

But in early July, he opened the door ever so slightly.

“There’s room for a young player [in Montreal] if they perform,” Bergevin explained, per the Gazette. “It’s up to them.”

There’s reason to believe McCarron could be that young player. At 20, he boasts tremendous size — 6-foot-6, 225 pounds — and is coming off a banner junior campaign, in which he scored 68 points in 56 games for OHL London and Oshawa, then another 18 in 21 playoff games, helping the Generals win the Memorial Cup while earning a spot on the tournament all-star team.

As for his NHL prospects… well, McCarron isn’t lacking confidence.

“The way I look at it is, nobody can stop me when I’m going full speed and nobody can take the puck off me. That’s the way I think,” he said, per NHL.com. “I don’t know if that’s being cocky or not, but I just want to hold the puck as long as I can and take pucks to the net and be strong on pucks.”

McCarron’s size, strength and skill set certainly makes him a candidate for an NHL gig this fall.

Also helping his cause? A position switch.

McCarron moved to center last season and proved to be a dynamic force, while also becoming a more well-rounded player. He prides himself on versatility — “I can play on the wing or at center,” he told the Globe and Mail back in May — but that ability to play down the middle could really be to his advantage.

Right now, Montreal has Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Lars Eller and Torrey Mitchell at center — hardly a dynamic group, and not especially deep. What’s more, Bergevin has expressed doubt that Alex Galchenyuk — the No. 3 overall pick in 2012, once thought to be the top-line pivot of the future — will ever play there.

“[Galchenyuk] is not there yet,” Bergevin explained at Montreal’s end-of-year presser. “He might never be a centerman.”

So yeah, a few factors working in McCarron’s favor.

The reality, though, is that making the leap from junior to the NHL is a tall task, even for a tantalizing prospect. McCarron will have to show remarkably well in training camp and the preseason — probably at center and wing — just to crack the Canadiens’ opening-night roster.

Bergevin sees ‘no reason’ to make changes to Canadiens coaching staff

Montreal Canadiens Introduce Michel Therrien As New Head Coach

Sounds like we can cross off Montreal as a potential landing spot for Mike Babcock, or any other free-agent head coach.

“I have no reason to make any changes when it comes to our coaching staff,” Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said this morning. “They are doing great work.”

Under Michel Therrien, the Habs finished first in the Atlantic (50-22-10) and made it to the second round of the playoffs. Which is a lot better than most teams.

But despite that, Therrien received a good amount of criticism for how his team played. The Canadiens were relatively poor at controlling the puck, they had the 20th-ranked offense, and were overly reliant on goalie Carey Price.  

Montreal’s power play also struggled, ranking 23rd during the regular season and scoring just twice in the playoffs. That put assistant coach Dan Lacroix, the power play being his responsibility, under the microscope. But based on Bergevin’s remarks today, Lacroix will remain on the staff.

Bergevin also made a comment about 21-year-old Alex Galchenyuk that raised some eyebrows.

“Chucky is not there yet,” Bergevin said, per TSN’s John Lu. “He might never be a centerman. He might be, he could be.”

Galchenyuk was the third overall pick in 2012. He was drafted to be a center. On top of that, many feel the Canadiens’ biggest flaw is down the middle, where Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais are currently their top two centers.

Perhaps Bergevin was just trying to motivate Galchenyuk. Or, perhaps his remark, as some have suggested, is related to the fact Galchenyuk is a pending restricted free agent and will be negotiating a new contract this summer. Because Bergevin also acknowledged it’s next to impossible to land a number-one center through a trade, suggesting the price to do so would be, well, Price.

Related: Canadiens need to be more than Carey Price

Canadiens need to be more than Carey Price

Ondrej Palat, Carey Price, Andrei Markov

Carey Price may be the deserving favorite to win the Hart Trophy, but his numbers in six games against the Lightning were anything but MVP-caliber.

Price went 2-4 versus Tampa Bay, allowing 16 goals on 154 shots, for a save percentage of .896.

His performance was actually quite reminiscent of the one by the last goalie to win the Hart, Montreal’s Jose Theodore in 2001-02. Also in the second round, Theodore struggled against Carolina, allowing 14 goals in his final three games combined, and the Habs went out in six.

That’s the risk a team takes when it relies heavily on its goalie. The Canadiens were not a particularly good possession team this season. They gave up more shots than they registered. They won their division largely because they had the NHL’s highest save percentage (.926).

“I didn’t play well enough for us to win the series,” Price said. “I think that’s basically more or less what it comes down to.”

That may sound like he’s being overly hard on himself, but what he said wasn’t untrue. His counterpart, Ben Bishop, finished the series with a .940 save percentage. The Lightning clearly won the goaltending battle. Hands up those who predicted that Bishop would outplay Price. Heck, a couple of weeks ago we were wondering if Bishop would be his team’s Achilles’ heel in Game 7 versus Detroit. You’ll recall that everyone was on the Petr Mrazek train then. What have we said all season about the unpredictability of the goaltending position?

“As a team we’ve got to understand that Carey’s the best goalie in the world but he’s also human, things are going to happen out of his control sometimes and we’ve got to respond for him,” defenseman P.K. Subban said.

With Montreal’s season over, that response now falls to GM Marc Bergevin. But his task won’t be an easy one. Unless you can think of a simple way to add an elite center. Because asking Alex Galchenyuk to be that guy next season is a pretty big ask for a 21-year-old. All we know is a team with Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais as its top two centers is going to be hard-pressed to win the Stanley Cup, even with brilliant goaltending.

Related: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup