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Michael McCarron's development has taken a very positive turn

With the Memorial Cup taking center stage, all eyes are on the first-round pick

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It may come as a surprise to some that Michael McCarron is playing top notch hockey during the Memorial Cup, however the truth remains that this is the cherry on top of a very encouraging development season for the hulking forward.

In a rather tame rookie season with the London Knights last year, McCarron only managed to produce 14 goals and 20 assists in 66 games, on a stacked Knights team. He finished 10th in scoring for London, only four points ahead of defenceman Nikita Zadorov, who happened to play 30 fewer games than McCarron.

The 2014-15 season was the turning point, as the first 25 games of the season saw McCarron eclipse his 2013-14 offensive output, with 22 goals and 19 assists.

Following the trade to Oshawa his point production dipped, as is to be expected when a player has to learn a new system midway through the season. Playing in his new position, centre, McCarron was creating a plethora of scoring chances and quality shots, but was unable to match his early-season production, with only six goals and 21 assists in 31 regular season games with the Generals.

It's well known that goal scoring is never a constant, and what kept me optimistic about McCarron's development following the Oshawa trade was that he was still playing a very solid game, but he simply wasn't finding the back of the net.

He does a fantastic job of protecting the puck on the boards, and there's no doubt that his physical game is imposing.

Despite his scoring issues with the Generals, it has to be said that year two of McCarron's Ontario Hockey League odyssey went quite well.

Points EP/60 PPG NHL E Goals Created TmPt% Estimated TOI
2013-14 34 (148th) 2.71 (77th) 0.52 (168th) 12 (170th) 10.02 (145h) 11.04 (222nd) 11.39 (312th)
2014-15 68 (31st) 3.35 (23rd) 1.21 (25th) 29 (26th) 21.95 (34th) 26.46 (60th) 21.78 (51st)

(EP/6- = even-strength points per 60 min TOI, PPG=points per game, NHL E = NHL equivalency points, TmPT% = Team points percentage. All stats sourced from the fantastic Canadian Hockey League resource CHL Stats)

It's worth noting that despite some drastic improvements in his second season, McCarron is still not in the top 30 of many offensive categories in the OHL, which means that we should probably temper our expectations when it comes to his potential scoring prowess in the NHL.

He's also a giant playing among kids. At 6'6" and 225 lbs as a 20-year-old, McCarron should definitely be dominating the play on a nightly basis. What we've seen so far this season is impressive, although somewhat expected consideration the situation he's in.

While fans should be excited by the progression he saw from his first OHL season, it's probably not wise to pencil in McCarron as a starter with the Habs next season, as many have been suggesting. He's a long term project that's showing signs of becoming a quality NHL player, but there's lots of road left to travel.

Thankfully, in the mean time fans can enjoy his strong play with the Generals in the Memorial Cup, where he has three points in the first two games, to go along with his 18 points during Oshawa's OHL playoff run.