The Carolina Hurricanes have signed restricted free agent defenseman Roland McKeown to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will carry a salary of $700K at the NHL level, but it doesn’t seem that will ever be paid out. McKeown has immediately been loaned to Skelleftea AIK of the SHL. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell released a statement on the move:
Roland had a solid season in the AHL last season and it is important that he get back on the ice to continue his development. Playing in the Swedish league is a great opportunity for him to do just that.
This is an extremely interesting move, given that so many other AHL-bound prospects are still sitting around wondering where they will be playing this season. If the minor league isn’t able to put together a plan, we could see a hurried exodus of talent to Europe in order to fill the few foreign spots available. McKeown looks like he’ll have a head start and should be able to get in a good chunk of development overseas.
The 24-year-old defenseman has played ten games at the NHL level in the past, but spent both 2018-19 and 2019-20 entirely in the AHL. Selected 50th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, he arrived in Carolina via a trade for Andrej Sekera less than a year later. While he hasn’t been able to crack the Hurricanes blueline, that may be more to do with the strength of the NHL group than his own play, which though inconsistent at times has still been strong for the Charlotte Checkers. In 61 games last season he recorded 24 points.