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Michael McCarron signs with Habs, joins OHL’s London Knights

Montreal Canadiens draft pick Mike McCarron

Like clockwork every summer, the recruiting battle between the NCAA and Canadian Hockey League heats up. Scores of prospects once promised to skate with college teams suddenly back out of their commitments and head to play in the CHL.

Or, in the case of winger Mike McCarron, the sign a contract with an NHL club to lose their NCAA eligibility. McCarron, a first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the June NHL entry draft, signed a three-year entry-level deal with the team on Thursday.

The 6-foot-5, 228-pound native of Macomb, Mich., had previously given his commitment to play in the NCAA for Michigan State, Cornell, Western Michigan University.

Given the NCAA's stringent rules regarding amateurism, signing a pro contract makes him ineligible for college hockey and leaves him in the lap of the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights.

The Knights are, of course, the defending OHL champions and will host the Memorial Cup in 2014. London traded for McCarron's rights in June 2012, sending a 5th round pick to the Belleville Bulls along with conditional picks. According to a source with knowledge of the deal, the conditions mean the Bulls will get a second round pick for every year McCarron plays with the Knights.

[London GM Mark Hunter] said missing not being able to get him in the [OHL] draft bothered him.

“I really wanted to get him but I couldn’t,” Hunter said. “I watched the kid for three years before the draft. Where are you going to get a kid that big that can skate and handle the puck?”

McCarron is also a physical player who can handle himself although in a recent interview he says fighting is not something he wants to be known for.

McCarron would be a tough guy to move from in front of the net especially on a power play.

McCarron joins a long list of players the Knights have managed to entice away from the NCAA. Last year alone the Knights managed to get Dakota Mermis, Anthony Stolarz and Alex Broadhurst.  [London Free Press]

London hosting the Memorial Cup this year is just an added bonus for the Canadiens in terms of getting their top pick on a good team which will be in the spotlight for most of the CHL season. McCarron was also invited to USA Hockey's national junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., which takes place next month.

The fact that McCarron was drafted by the Canadiens out of the United States National Team Development Program, means he could potentially play in the AHL, though the chance of that happening is slim.

As friend of BTN, Chris Peters, points out the Habs have recently favoured allowing their prospects to develop in the CHL, rather than in the NCAA. It wasn't too long ago that the Habs signed Havard star forward Louis Leblanc, ending his eligibility and sending him to play in the Quebec league with the Montreal Juniors. They did the same with defenceman Jarred Tinordi who had been committed to play at Notre Dame before leaving to join the Knights.

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