McCauley was a junior hockey superstar with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)'s Ottawa 67's.
At the age of 16, McCauley earned a roster spot with the 67's, and
enjoyed a highly successful four-year career with the club which
culminated with his being named CHL Player of the Year for 1996–97. He was also a First Team All-Star in 1996 and 1997 and represented Canada at the 1996 and 1997 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships,
winning gold medals on both occasions. Prior to these two outstanding
seasons in Ottawa, McCauley was selected in the fourth round of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, 79th overall by the New Jersey Devils, though he would never play with the team. Brian Kilrea,
the long-time head coach of the 67's, once gave McCauley the ultimate
compliment by calling him the best player he had ever coached.
almost ended McCauley's promising career before he had ever played a
single NHL game, including one which sidelined him for about half of the
On February 25, 1997, the New Jersey Devils dealt McCauley, along with Jason Smith and Steve Sullivan, to the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Doug Gilmour, Dave Ellett, and New Jersey's 3rd round choice in 1999.
McCauley was used primarily as a defensive forward in his rookie season
in Toronto, and was limited to just six goals and 16 points. Concussion
issues continued to plague him as a pro, and these injuries deeply
affected his contributions on the ice. By 2000–01, he found himself in the minors with the American Hockey League (AHL)'s St. John's Maple Leafs, though he was called up to Toronto for the playoffs.
By the start of 2001–02,
McCauley earned a roster spot in Toronto and was a key contributor for
the Maple Leafs all season long, managing to stay injury free. Though no
longer the offensive force he had been as a junior player, he had
become a solid two-way performer.
On March 5, 2003, a Toronto team eager to obtain power forward Owen Nolan, traded McCauley, Brad Boyes, and Toronto's 1st round choice in 2003 to the San Jose Sharks,
with Nolan going to Toronto in exchange. The change of scenery seemed
to benefit McCauley. In his first full season with the Sharks in 2003–04, he established career highs in goals (20) and points (47). McCauley was known for his two-way play and his penalty-killing abilities, which earned him a Selke Trophy nomination in 2003–04 as the league's best defensive forward.
After three seasons in San Jose, McCauley signed as a free agent with the division rival Los Angeles Kings in July 2006. He missed the majority of 2006–07 season recovering from a recurring knee injury, and ultimately played in only 10 games in Los Angeles, scoring one goal.
During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, McCauley studied at Athabasca University.
On August 15, 2008, McCauley accepted a position as an assistant coach with the Queen's Golden Gaels men's hockey team.
Since 2009, McCauley has served as a pro scout for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings.
McCauley currently resides in Kingston, ON