Michael McCarron has largely been a rotational player in the NHL, but took on more responsibility last season, playing in 51 games and being a steady presence on the Nashville Predators fourth line.
Despite playing in 51 games last year, McCarron’s impact was kept at minimum thanks in large part to having the lowest average ice time among all regular skaters on the team, averaging just 10:23 per game. Seven goals and seven assists is actually commendable in that dwindled role.
Although McCarron would put up some points from time to time, his main contribution was being a big body and a physical presence, as we all know the Nashville Predators love in their players. He put up 116 hits, good for seventh on the team.
This year, General Manager David Poile and the Predators made it a priority to get better, deeper, and more disciplined, and McCarron is not someone you can say you would confidently want in your starting lineup. He is not bad, but is he going to elevate this team the most, especially when the team already has an abundance of bottom-six grinders?
Ideally, McCarron plays this year in a rotational role once again, and he is in the lineup only in situations where there is an injury or something that causes one of the regulars to not be available.
Michael McCarron will be on Nashville Predators’ fourth line at best
If McCarron was not above the fourth line last year when the Predators were a worse team on paper than they are now, he certainly will not be this year. The question is, if it is not an injury or anything the team cannot control, how would McCarron see the ice?
Just about the only way I see that happening is if Tanner Jeannot is taken off of the third line or the infamous “Herd Line”. The reason for that is if you put in McCarron there, you don’t have a player as good, but you at least keep the line’s identity intact and the overall play style hardly changes.
Given that Nino Niederreiter is in the top six and plays a similar style to Jeannot, they are not likely to roll with that considering they need mostly pure skilled players. Besides that, the Predators would be hard pressed to break up the herd line as it is.
The only other place McCarron could play would be alongside Eeli Tolvanen and Cody Glass, but he is just not a great fit with two players that have actual top six expectations. But knowing Head Coach John Hynes’ tendencies towards big bodied players, you should not rule that out.
The consensus is that it is just hard to imagine McCarron realistically fitting on one of the lines for the Nashville Predators this year, which is why it just does not make sense for him to be playing very much.
McCarron does have something to prove as training camp opens less than a week from now. If he can somehow show coaches he’s improved his game to an all-around potential, then perhaps he earns himself a few early starts. That’s very unlikely considering the offseason additions, especially Zach Sanford who is a better and upgraded version of McCarron.
Predictions on McCarron’s 2022-23 Season
Just to be clear, it is not like McCarron doesn’t have a place on this team necessarily. He is just best suited as someone who plays in short doses when needed. That’s okay because guys like that are needed on teams, as injuries do and will happen at points over the course of an 82-game season.
It would be really surprising to not see McCarron enter the lineup at all this year because he is likely among the next man up when there are injuries. But it is not like we can look at the roster right now and look at him as a legitimate factor at the season’s end.
A fair prediction for McCarron is that he plays around 35 games and puts up around 10 total points. We’ll see plenty of hits from him as that’s his strong suite, of course.