As far as NHL insiders go, Elliotte Friedman is one of the best in the business, so odds are there’s at least smoke here, if not fire. That being said, it’s easy to see why Montreal might balk; McCarron has bounced back and forth between the American Hockey League and the Montreal Canadiens this season, but is still well-regarded among prospects in Montreal’s system. The fact that he’s listed as 6’6” and 231 undoubtedly broadens his appeal as a piece in a Hanzal deal.
The upside for the Canadiens is that they would be acquiring a solid second-line center with decent production (10 goals and eight assists in 39 games). And his possession numbers, while nominally bad (46.9% 5v5 Corsi For) are both a career low and still ahead of Arizona’s team average by about a tenth of a percentage point. Despite Martin Hanzal’s oft-derided injury problems, only Tomas Plekanec and Torrey Mitchell have played more minutes for the Habs down the middle than Hanzal has for the Coyotes, and Hanzal has more goals than either.
Montreal is ultimately not in danger of falling out of the playoff picture: at the time of this writing the Habs are eight points ahead of the Ottawa Senators for the Atlantic Division lead - though they have played three more games than Ottawa or third-place Toronto. But their championship prospects have dwindled in the face of the resurgence of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.
If the Canadiens decide that they cannot afford to waste any more of Carey Price’s best years, they may opt to go for it. If that’s the case, expect to see them in the conversation surrounding Arizona’s attractive trade chips for the rest of the season.