Some defensive depth is heading to Denver. After a season spent overseas on loan in Sweden, former Carolina Hurricane Roland McKeown has signed with the Colorado Avalanche. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that it is a one-year, two-way deal for the two-way blue liner at the minimum $750K NHL salary and a $225K AHL salary.
A 2014 second-round pick, McKeown has yet to really pan out in the NHL. Seemingly always on the cusp of a job with the Hurricanes, the 25-year-old only actually has ten NHL games to his credit, all coming back in 2017-18. A plus player at every level with good AHL scoring numbers, as well as now a decent season in the SHL, plus a valued right-handed shot, McKeown seems like a player that would have earned more NHL opportunity, but it has not occured.
While the easy excuse is to cite Carolina’s impressive defensive depth of late, that isn’t going to change in Colorado. The Avalanche are well-stocked on the blue line as well, in both the NHL and AHL. It would seem that he would be no better than ninth on the depth chart to begin the year. However, that is not considering the fact that he is one of only three right-handed defenders with NHL experience in the organization. If McKeown can get off to a strong start and injury befalls a righty, such as injury-prone veteran Erik Johnson, perhaps McKeown will finally get his shot.