McCabe was born in St. Catharines, Ontario, but his family moved to Calgary at a young age and he played most of his minor hockey in the Calgary area.
The New York Islanders selected McCabe in the second round (No. 40) of the 1993 Draft after he had 57 assists and 60 points in his second season in the Western Hockey League. The defenseman averaged more than a point per game while playing two more seasons in the WHL. He also helped Canada win the IIHF World Junior Championship in 1994 and 1995.