The Montreal Canadiens went back to the old school organizational philosophy at the 2013 NHL Draft, using their first round pick on a big American-developed player Michael McCarron, as the team returns to its most successful draft well.
McCarron, not being a CHLer, was ranked quite low in the Jeff Skinner Rankings at 572nd overall, but the Habs director of amateur scouting Trevor Timmins perhaps didn't have scoring in mind when he selected the behemoth of a forward. McCarron stands 6'5" and is listed at 228, and it's easy to criticize a team for overvaluing size at the NHL draft that hasn't had as much success as the Canadiens out of this particular well. He was ranked 35th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
Montreal's success with US National Development Team players started with Ryan McDonagh in 2007, who was eventually flipped in an unfortunate trade for Scott Gomez. That same year, the team selected 6'2" USHL forward Max Pacioretty with the 22nd overall pick who has since developed into a first line forward with the Canadiens. Danny Kristo finally graduated from the University of North Dakota this spring and played his first pro games with the Hamilton Bulldogs, but bookending the run of USHL players for the Canadiens was Jarred Tinordi, selected with the 22nd pick in 2009. He defected the US program and played for the London Knights and looks every bit an NHLer.
McCarron is not a household name, did not go in our Buzzing the Net mock draft. Corey Pronman describes him as a forward who is strong even for his size, and maintains a good puck-possession game. He didn't score too much in the USHL with the developmental team, but did have five points in seven games at the World U-18s in the spring.
The Canadiens probably didn't make the sexy pick at No. 25, of course, as Vancouver took falling skilled forward Hunter Shinkaruk immediately before the Habs had their selection, but it's easy to trust Timmins' reputation with these mid-to-late first round picks. There is not a lot of full-time NHL talent on the board at that point, but the Canadiens have been successful from this fishing hole.
As for McCarron, his CHL rights belong to the London Knights. Per Apron Basu of NHL.com:
McCarron says he will decide this week whether he will go to London of the OHL or Western Michigan of the NCAA next season.
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) June 30, 2013
There's not much to go on. I don't think the Canadiens will care whether or not he goes to junior like Tinordi, or stays in the United States and plays for Western Michigan.