McCarron Spurns Broncos, Signs With Canadiens

Michael McCarron has walked away from the amateur game and signed with Montreal - Bruce Bennett

The lone NCAA signee drafted in the first round of last week's NHL Draft has made a decision on his playing future, deciding to forgo college and begin his professional career. What does that mean for the Broncos?

At roughly 10:07 am this morning, Western Michigan's SID Adam Bodnar tweeted that Michael McCarron, the lone NCAA-bound player selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, had decided to forgo college and play for the London Knights of the OHL. Later, the Montreal Canadiens, the team that had drafted McCarron 25th overall, announced they had signed the 6'5" centerman to a 3-year entry level deal.

So McCarron is now a Canadien and Montreal will decide whether to send him to their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, or to London (the most likely choice). Either way, he is now ineligible to play in the collegiate ranks.

As for the Broncos, the team McCarron had told me back in December he was "99.9% sure" he would play for, their short bench at forward just got a whole lot shorter. Head Coach Andy Murray told MLive's David Drew that the Broncos would "have some other players [they] could bring in that are already committed to [WMU] ." Those players are presumably Willem Nong-Lambert, John Carpino, or Michael Rebry.

Drew also mentioned the possibility of Aidan Muir, this year's top draft pick in the USHL Draft, joining the Broncos. Muir went in the 4th round of this year's NHL Draft as well. However, Chris Heisenberg predicts that Muir wont join the Broncos until at least 2014, or even 2015.

Currently, Western Michigan only has 13 forwards on their roster. They graduated 6 forwards last season, including 4 players (Dane Walters, Mike Leone, Ben Warda, and Trevor Elias) that saw consistent significant time. The Broncos also lost rarely used reserves Alex Carpenter and Robert Francis to transfer. Those 8 forwards are replaced by 3 incoming freshmen and a now eligible redshirt sophomore in Sam Mellor.

For those who don't know, each team starts 12 forwards, 6 defenders, and 2 goaltenders each game. Some teams will adjust and start an added defender in place of a forward (yes, I've seen this done against WMU before). With only so few forwards and 9 defenders, including Garrett Haar who is ineligible for at least the fall semester, the Broncos must now either grab a late commitment or tempt chance. If any 2 forwards get injured or suspended, Murray would be forced to either play an added defender, or a walk-on. If that number rises to 3, games immediately become unfathomable to watch.

For now, Bronco fans must wait and see if another commitment joins the team "early". With only 3 months until the season starts, the incoming player would already be at a disadvantage, as the Broncos have already began training as early as last month.

For what it's worth, here is what the October, November, and early December Bronco starting line-ups roughly look like as of right now. New players, or players I think have not secured starting spots are italicized.

LEFT WING

CENTER

RIGHT WING

Shane Berschbach (Sr) Chase Balisy (Sr) Mike Cichy (RSr)
Colton Hargrove (So) Josh Pitt (So) Justin Kovacs (Jr)
Nolan LaPorte (So) Will Kessel (Jr) Sheldon Dries (Fr)
Aaron Hadley (Fr) Sam Mellor (RSo) Kyle Novak (Fr)

Left Defense

Right Defense

Goaltender

Mike McKee (Fr) Chris Dienes (Fr) Frank Slubowski (Jr)
Matt Stewart (Jr) Kenney Morrison (So) Lukas Hafner (So)
Jordan Oesterle (Jr) Dennis Brown (Sr) Sam Bloomberg (So)*


The 3 players I currently have sitting out are Taylor Fleming (Fr, D), Thomas Nitsche (Fr, D), and David Killip (Jr, F). Fleming and Nitsche are both late signees on defense, but should see time if they don't immediately win a starting role in the normally stable Bronco defense. Matt Stewart saw some time last season in place for Haar when the Washington Capitals draft pick went down with an injury, but still will fight for a spot in the line-up.

More rough waters lie ahead for the Broncos now, who will look to rebound from last season's collapse in February and March. They join the NCHC this season after spending the past 37 seasons in the CCHA.

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