Continuing on with Pro Hockey Rumors 2016-17 rookie profiles, we remain in the Atlantic Division. Included among today’s batch of first-year players is the most recent #1 overall draft choice, Auston Matthews. You can find the previous editions here, here and here.
Michael McCarron (Montreal) – A quick look at Montreal’s depth chart shows the Canadiens could surely use some size up front and McCarron is someone who boasts that trait in spades. At 6-foot-6 and 231 pounds. McCarron would easily be the largest forward on the ice for Montreal by a wide margin. But size isn’t the only quality he brings to the table; McCarron can also add some offense.
In his first taste of professional hockey, McCarron recorded 17 goals and 38 points for the St. John’s IceCaps in the AHL. That’s solid production for a first-year pro who played most of the season at 20-years-old.
McCarron would also get his first taste of the NHL playing 20 games with the Canadiens and scoring his first career big league goal. He also had a -10 plus-minus rating and although plus-minus ratings aren’t necessarily a good indicator of two-way prowess, it does suggest McCarron could use more polishing in the AHL. However, if he does get his chance in Montreal thi year, McCarron should at least add physicality and skill to the team’s bottom-six.
Thomas Chabot (Ottawa) – The Ottawa Senators used their first-round pick in 2015 on skilled, two-way defenseman Thomas Chabot and there is a decent chance he debuts this season in Canada’s capital. Scouting reports credit Chabot for being quick-thinking and an excellent skater; both traits that will fit well into today’s style of play in the NHL. But if Chabot wants to make an impact in the NHL he’ll have to ramp up the intensity.
Ottawa assistant GM Randy Lee felt Chabot’s performance at the team’s summer development camp was not up to par and evidently communicated that to the top prospect, as written about by Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun.
“I thought Thomas should have been a bit more intense, I thought Thomas should have dominated. I think Thomas should look at the landscape and see we’ve got six signed defencemen (to NHL contracts) … Thomas and I have talked about it.”
Clearly the Ottawa organization has high expectations for Chabot and will give him every chance to make the team this season. The Senators do have six NHL-caliber blue liners under contract, all of whom with significant professional experience. Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci, Marc Mathot and Dion Phaneuf should hold down spots in the club’s top-four with Mark Borowiecki and Chris Wideman forming the third pair. Of the group, Wideman has the least amount of NHL experience with just 64 games played. However he does have nearly three seasons of AHL experience under his belt as well. Chabot will have his work cut out for him if he wants to suit up for the Senators this season.
Auston Matthews (Toronto) – Matthews, the first overall choice in the June’s entry draft, will be an early favorite for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. He is considered a future face-of-the-franchise player and while maybe not quite on the same level with Connor McDavid, last year’s top pick, in terms of being a “generational” talent, Matthews is still an exciting prospect.
Matthews already demonstrates excellent two-way ability and at 6-foot-2, 216 pounds has the requisite size to handle the rigors of a long NHL season. Additionally, his experience playing professionally against full-grown men in Switzerland should help facilitate his transition to the NHL. The Leafs have lacked a truly elite center since Mats Sundin left the club following the 2007-2008 campaign but all signs point to Matthews quickly filling that void.
William Nylander (Toronto) – The Maple Leafs have done an excellent job of adding high-end young talent to the organization in recent years and Nylander is part of the wave of top prospects preparing to lead Toronto to the top of the standings. Nylander reached the NHL last season and held his own in 22 games scoring six goals and 13 points while averaging 16:20 of ice time per contest.
Nylander also excelled playing for the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, tallying 18 goals and 45 points in 45 regular season games. In the postseason he added seven goals in 14 contests for the Marlies. It’s expected he’ll have a spot to lose in the Leafs’ top-four to open the season and has the skill to be one of the club’s top offensive producers.
Hockey apparently runs in the Nylander family blood as William’s father Michael carved out a solid NHL career playing for seven NHL clubs over a 15-year career. Alexander Nylander, William’s brother, was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the 2016 entry draft.