The Carolina Hurricanes have signed another restricted free agent, this time inking Roland McKeown to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal carries an NHL salary of $700K, and will keep him an RFA at its expiry. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell released a short statement on the deal:
Roland is a reliable defenseman who is also able to contribute offensively. He was a big part of Charlotte’s success last season and we’re excited to bring him back.
McKeown, 23, was the 50th overall pick in 2014 and has been an excellent player for the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL over the last several years. Turning pro in 2016, he has the right-handed defenseman has recorded 59 points in 206 AHL games, including a career-high 25-point season in 2018-19. While that lags behind some of the other offensive options in the Carolina system, McKeown has shown solid ability in his own end and may be a part of the NHL roster down the line.
In 2017-18 he got that chance, at least for a little while, and recorded three points in ten games for the Hurricanes. Though he hasn’t made it back, that taste will give McKeown some valuable experience if he finds himself called up this season for whatever reason. The Hurricanes obviously have some of the best defensive depth in the entire NHL, but we’ve seen countless times that that can disappear in an instant.
Interestingly though, McKeown is actually not waiver-exempt any longer and will need to clear in order to go back to Charlotte in the first place. Among those who will be on waivers at the end of training camp he may stick out as a potential option for claim if the team decides to send him down, especially for a rebuilding team looking for right-handed options. Perhaps in just a month’s time he’ll find himself in an even better situation, one that could result in some legitimate NHL playing time to bring to the arbitration table next summer.