Montreal Canadiens AHL Affiliate | Laval Rocket News: Habs Prospects at WJSS, Michael McCarron Gets Another Chance, Nikita Scherbak’s Critical Comments
ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase began on Friday in Plymouth, Michigan, at USA Hockey Arena. The tournament starts the process of choosing rosters for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. The tournament features United States, Canada, Finland, and Sweden, and will run until Saturday.
There are four Canadiens prospects participating in the tournament: Cole Caufield (F, 2019 1st round, 15th overall), Jordan Harris (D, 2018 3rd round, 71st overall), Allan McShane (F, 2018 4th round, 97th overall), and Jacob Olofsson (F, 2018 2nd round, 56th overall).
Heading into Tuesday’s game, Caufield leads Canadiens prospects in scoring with one goal (empty net) and one assist through two games. Olofsson has recorded one point as he scored an impressive but controversial game-winning goal in overtime on Sunday. McShane should play in Canada’s first game of the tournament scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Caufield and Harris remain on the US roster after the team announced its first round of cuts.
McCarron Gets Another Chance
On Saturday, the Canadiens announced that they signed Michael McCarron to a new one-year two-way contract. The deal will play him $700,000 in the NHL, $125,000 in the AHL, with a guaranteed minimum of $150,000.
Prior to the start of last season, I had thrown in the towel on McCarron. At the time, I thought the Canadiens had too. He had signed his last contract in September, only days before the start of the training camp. He hasn’t been able to earn a regular roster spot in Montreal. During his four years as a professional, he has played a total of 69 games in the NHL.
I think he came into last season with a more positive attitude and was willing to put in the effort. After clearing waivers, he was given the role of being one of the associate captains this season. “I walked out of that meeting with him yesterday feeling like a million bucks, even though I don’t make a million bucks,” said McCarron after his first meeting with Joel Bouchard in September.
McCarron only played 32 games last season after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in late December. It was a season that he claimed to be his best since his first season with the St. John’s IceCaps, the organization’s previous AHL affiliate.
Based on Bouchard’s comments at the end of season, I can’t say I was surprised that he was re-signed by the organization. His 21 points in 32 games was only three points less than his point total in 54 games played during the 2017-18 season.
It will be interesting to see how McCarron is used in Laval this season. Last season, he was playing as a top-six forward, mostly at centre, and was used on both the power play and penalty kill units. With the improved roster that is expected for the Rocket this season, his role might diminish.
Scherbak Blasts Organization
On Friday, Slava Malamud posted a report his blog about an interview that Nikita Scherbak gave to the Sport24 website that was posted that day.
Scherbak spoke about his time in Montreal and with the Kings organizations. Scherbak was with the Canadiens organization last season until December and got no ice time with the Habs, despite opportunities to get into the lineup while roster spots were available via injury.
At the end of October, Scherbak was sent to Laval on a conditioning stint and played five games, scoring once, before getting injured.
After his first game, and not playing for one month Scherbak understandably said “It was a little hard personally in the third period, my legs we’re getting heavier.” But Scherbak said that he felt good in the second frame. Two nights later, Bouchard wasn’t impressed with Scherbak’s performance. “Oof, it was not exactly why the guy was sent for conditioning. To me, its not NHL calibre to play like that [..] he wasn’t very good,” said Bouchard about Scherbak following that game.
It was clear that the organization had a bad relationship with their first round pick in the 2014 draft. “I didn’t get off to a good start in Montreal, I wasn’t allowed to play. I trained, I endured, but in the end my nerves got the best of me, and I asked for a trade. They couldn’t get a trade done so they put me on waivers,” Scherbak told the Russian website. After not getting the chance to play for such an extended time, I don’t blame him to make that request. I would too.
When he was placed on waivers in December, the Canadiens could have sent Michael Chaput to the AHL without clearing waivers, but they chose to send Scherbak. The organization wanted to cut ties with him. “Anyone that saw him in Laval saw that his game isn’t where it should be right now and we need him to get better,” said Claude Julien on the day that Scherbak was placed on waivers.
Scherbak spoke about how former Habs head coach Michel Therrien would always yell at him when mistakes were made. It’s not the first time that the former coach has been criticized about his communication skills with his players. Scherbak also added that Marc Bergevin didn’t want him to live in downtown Laval, and forced him to live in Laval.
Things didn’t get much better for Scherbak after joining the Kings organization. He scored in his first game with Los Angeles, which ended up being his only point in the NHL. After that point, things went downhill including playing 3:39 in a game against the Jets.
“The next day I went to talk to the coach myself [..] He just said I need to get better, that I was in bad shape,” said Scherbak. Kings head coach Willie Desjardins raved about Scherbak’s skill and work ethic, but said that he just was not in game shape after sitting unused for months in Montreal.
“I like his skill, I like his attitude. He’s got a good attitude, he wants to get better,” said Desjardins. “Last game he laid down and blocked a shot.”
With the Ontario Reign, Scherbak played on the top line in his first game before being bumped down to the third line. That’s when he decided that he wanted to leave the NHL. In 23 games with the Reign, Scherbak scored four goals and added seven assists.
I believe that this is a situation where there are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I have no doubt that Scherbak’s confidence was damaged during his tenure in the Canadiens organization. That being said, I also think that Scherbak has his portion of blame in his short-lived NHL career.
The Canadiens Connection podcast discussed this story during Saturday’s episode.
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