We kick off the CanucksArmy Top 20 prospects with the newest player to join the group, Drummondville forward Michael Carcone.
Carcone, who was an invitee to the Canucks development camp last month, did enough to earn an entry-level contract with the host club. Though the deal the came a week after the conclusion of their development camp, Carcone’s absence from the Florida Panthers development camp indicated it was very much a done deal.
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) July 15, 2016
The Canucks had access to Carcone on the open market as a result of his being passed up in back-to-back-to-back drafts, first as a member of the Stouffville Spirit in the OJHL, then with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL from his D+1 season onward.
Carcone showed well as a QMJHL rookie with 41 points (12-29-41) in 50 games and built on that with 89 points (47 goals 42 assists) in this, his D+2 season.
Among QMJHL forwards Carcone’s 47 goals were bested only by Carolina Hurricanes prospect Nicholas Roy. Much of this success was driven by a shooting gaudy, unsustainable 20.3%. For added context, though, Carcone converting on roughly one in five shots doesn’t actually stick out too egregiously relative to many other high scoring QMJHL forwards.
An especially encouraging note to Carcone’s lofty production is that 84% of his production came in the form of primary points. Viewed as a rate statistic, Carcone’s 1.136 primary points per game are fourth among 2014 draft eligible forward behind just Conor Garland (ARI), Francis Perron (OTT) and fellow Canucks development camp invitee Alexis D’Aoust. Primary points are a strong indicator of who’s driving the bus offensively on any given line, so that’s valuable context in Carcone’s favour.
It didn’t take Carcone long to find his stride. The Ajax, Ontario native started the season with a four-point (one goal, three assist) game and maintained a point-and-a-half-per-game pace long thereafter. By season’s end, his production had dipped to a still mightily impressive 1.35 points-per-game. Carcone’s calling card last season was consistency, as he never went more than two games without a point and only suffered back-to-back doughnuts without a point on two occasions last season.
So, what kind of game does Carcone play?
Carcone plays a fast paced game predicated on a combination of speed and skill which translates nicely on the rush. He’s not afraid to take the body and as his 80 PIM’s can attest he’s often wont to mix it up a bit. Carcone isn’t a physically imposing player, measuring in at 5’10” and about 170 lbs., but his stature doesn’t stick out on a nightly basis as a negative. He plays much larger than his size.
Although Elite Prospects lists Carcone as a centre, he spent much of last season on the wing and that’s the likely career path he’ll follow professionally.
When we use pGPS to look at Carcone (you can read more about pGPS here) – an impressive 15.2% of comparable players to Carcone went on to become NHL regulars. No matter how you slice it, that is an impressive rate that is equal to a late second round or third round pick. Coupled with the fact that Carcone just turned 20 in May, he seems like a decent gamble. (*for this percentage, goals created was the primary metric for comparison)
One thing I firmly believe in when trying to build your organization, is that adding prospects to your system by any mean possible is a good thing. Even if you end up with a player like Darren Archibald, who is now a good AHL veteran to help your young players in their transition, taking those risks generally reap more rewards than liabilities.
That in mind, the Canucks made a savvy decision adding Carcone to the organization. The Canucks lack forward prospects at the beginning of their professional career this season. As such, Carcone is likely AHL bound and will likely be granted an offensive role. Should he struggle to meet expectations in that role, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he spends time in the ECHL.
Whenever a player is passed over in three drafts, there is a fair belief that he was passed over for a reason and that holds true most of the time. Look no further than Canucks recent CHL UFA signing Dane Fox, who exploded offensively in his last year but struggled to keep up at the AHL level.
Where Carcone might have an edge on a player like Fox is that skating isn’t an issue apparent in his game. If there’s one thing that separates players at the professional level, it’s skating. If you can’t keep up, you’ll get left behind.
Though Carcone didn’t put up impressive numbers until his D+2 season, there were a variety of factors that likely played into that. For example, Fox was in his 4th OHL season when he posted gaudy numbers during the 2013-14 season with the Erie Otters, and had some guy named Connor McDavid feeding him the puck. Whereas Carcone was in his 2nd season in the QMJHL and was a key cog to the Drummondville attack.
Carcone and Alex Barre-Boulet each posted 89 points for the Voltigeurs this past season, their next closest teammate was defenceman and Canucks development camp invitee Frederic Aube, who posted 41 points. If Carcone or Barre-Boulet were not scoring for Drummondville, no one was.
Given all of this, Carcone seems like a worthwhile gamble because he may simply be a player who was just slightly behind the normal development curve. If he doesn’t work out, then no harm to the Canucks other than the AHL salary over the term of the entry level contract.
If Carcone is simply a player that was overlooked due to being behind the curve and develops into a bottom-six NHL forward, the Canucks will look like bandits.