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Photo Credit: Image: Bryan W. Peck / Utica Comets

Carcone looking to prove people wrong

The Canucks Young Stars tournament wrapped up on Monday afternoon with the Canucks falling 5-4 in overtime to the Oilers.

Before that game was done, Michael Carcone made an impression, scoring two of the four goals for the baby Canucks including this beauty:

Carone was an invite to the 2016 development camp, and quickly made everyone take notice. He made such an impact that he was able to earn an ELC before camp wrapped. Canucks management may have expedited the process because Carcone was expected to attend the Florida Panthers development camp the following week. So before those pesky Panthers could get a look at the young Ajax, ON native, the Canucks locked him up and got him into the organization.

The right winger didn’t have a noteworthy first season for Utica, in the sense that his point totals didn’t jump off the page. But if you followed the Comets closely, Carcone was regularly noticeable. Whether it was his feisty play, offensive instincts, or his quick feet – he rarely went a game without making a play that you took note of.

Another aspect of his game that always stood out to me was his versatility. He moved up and down the lineup, playing in multiple situations but still making that impact on a nightly basis. At first glance, his production of 5 goals and 13 assists would be quick to write off, but that was only one point Jake Virtanen’s 19 points and in 4 fewer games.

What stood out from the image above, is that every player had better goals for percentages when playing with Carcone. That is extremely encouraging.

In Penticton this past weekend, Carcone was a step above the majority of the other forwards for the Canucks. His stride was stronger and more compact, his reads of the play were much quicker, and he was making sound defensive plays to help out his defenceman. Although he didn’t score until the last game, he was creating chances. He also could’ve had another couple goals for the Canucks on Monday.

Carcone is taking it in stride though, as he knows there are still some things to learn. That learning process started with his first year in Utica, he remarked on that learning and development was a constant thing last year and going forward:

“Yeah, absolutely – a lot of veterans there that helped me along the way. It took some time, but I think I got a hold of things. Even here this weekend and going forward, I’m going to keep learning”

Heading into the summer, Carcone focused on one thing, strength, “When you get to the pros, there are bigger boys there. Being a small guy, I need to be a bit bigger in the legs and stronger just to hold my ground”

This is Carcone’s second development camp and as mentioned above, it’s clear that he was a step above the other young forwards. Carcone is aware of the experience he has over the other players, and is using it to help his teammates out with:

“Our team is pretty young, but having a year of pro under my belt, the guys are looking to me and I try to be a leader. Take what I’ve learned last year”

With development camp and Young Stars now in the books, the Canucks are starting main camp at Rogers Arena today. There is obviously a lot workoutout before the season begins, but it’s fair to believe that Carcone will be heading back to Utica for further development. Something that he is aware of, but he isn’t letting that dictate what he does this next few week:

“It’s kinda set in stone that I will be heading back to Utica, but for, me that’s not the mindset at all. I want to prove everyone wrong. I want a spot on the big club this year like everyone else. Going into this camp, I just want to work hard and prove everyone wrong”

I asked if trying to prove people wrong motivates him to work harder:

“My whole career has been like that. Just going through the drafts and being an undersized guy. I thrive off that, I kinda have to”

It will be interesting to see how Carcone does with this training camp. Given that the Canucks will have to split their squad with half the team going China, players like Carcone may get a longer look. He hopes that he can seize that chance. If he can’t crack the Canucks roster, he will head to Utica and help become a leader for the team:

“Questions are going to come up – I’ve been through it. Just to help them out and get them through those rough patches, I think will be important. I hope the guys come and talk to me about that, as I think I can help them out”

There is no rush for a player like Carcone, he is entering the second year of his entry level contract and has started to see some rewards for his hard work in Utica. Which is clearly shown in the graph below, that Jeremy Davis used in Carcone’s prospect profile last month:

 Using pGPS, only 8.0% of comparable players to Carcone went onto becoming NHL regulars

It’s worth making the point that the way that the NHL is trending, a player like Carcone’s chances of making the NHL are conceivably increasing. Doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen but the odds of Carcone carving out a career have a little more validity than the 8.0% suggests.f Carcone is given a larger role in Utica next season, an uptick in offensive production isn’t out of the question.

If Carcone is given a larger role in Utica next season, an uptick in offensive production isn’t out of the question. Combine that offence with his versatility and Carcone could be a darkhorse player to earn a call up this season.

  • Steamer

    Thanks Ryan! One of my favourite players in the organization, beginning last year in Dev Camp – told friends to watch for Stecher & Carcone – Stecher made it…first. Carcone is a smart,smart prospect and his desire is contagious. Carcone will go through a wall for a goal or to support a teammate – plays a very physical game with significant offensive upside. Time will reveal what his ceiling may be, but think this kid has huge potential and the presence of someone who plays with that kind of intensity tends to inspire better performances from teammates.This one looks like a great signing from Benning.

  • Warren B

    Nice work Ryan. Carcone and Molino were the only bright spots in Penticton for me. Juolevi and Demko were awful and both are a long way from even being in the convo for the NHL.

    The Flames were very impressive, the Oilers were stellar in cruise control while the young Canucks mirrored the whole organisation, a mess with no clear vision or direction. Doomed to failure for years to come, it’s sad to say after so many years of greatness but so very true..110 per cent true.

  • apr

    Reminds me a lot of that Frederick Gudreau kid who stepped up for Nashville during the playoffs. He profiles so similar to Molino and Lockwood, perhaps even Palmu. I don’t think that they all make it – but I do like the efforts to improve team speed. My Captain Obvious hat tells me this will be such a different team when the Sedins retires, but its pretty clear to me that Benning is really setting up the organization for the “modern” NHL – and that “meat and potatos” may be completely passé.

  • wojohowitz

    Training camp roster has 64 names on it. Would you like to see who is on that list? I would too and maybe sometime in the next few days the Canucks will put that list out. Another example of their really poor PR.

  • Rodeobill

    The young stars was both a pleasure and a disappointment. Fans got to see some new faces and some of them really stood out. Carcone dominated that last game, and D’aoust, Macewen, Lind, Chatfield, really stood out. I think fans were really hoping out higher level prospects would shine better through the boxcars a bit, but they weren’t bad either. I thought Gadjovich was as reported, a little slow, but damned If he doesnt know how to get to the right spots in the O zone and forecheck. I wonder what deep meaning and judgements you can really take away from a bunch of kids playing together for the first time with each other and a new coach anyway other than individual efforts and such. It was still fun to watch and some of them really played with heart.

    • defenceman factory

      I’m surprised there hasn’t been more notice of Gadjovich. It’s true he doesn’t show much flash and needs to work on foot speed but he does a lot right. He scored 2 goals and led the team with 4 points. He was also parked in front of the net for the screen on a couple more goals. He might not be considered fast but I didn’t see him give up on a puck once. He certainly won the majority of his puck battles. I think this prospect will exceed expectations.

  • defenceman factory

    Good for Carcone. He put on a great showing that last game. An organization is always better off having people with a good attitude and strong work ethic even if those folks are unlikely to ever play a major role.

  • LTFan

    I liked Carcone last year and thought he would have a good year in Utica. He struggled with the number of points he put up but was a + player. He played well in the Prospects tournament and it was obvious the year in the AHL helped quite a bit. I also like Curtis Valk who put up 46 points in Utica last year. The Canucks were not that high on him and he has signed a contract with the Florida Panthers. I would like to see Valk make it in Florida as I would like to see Carcone make it with the Canucks some time this season.

    • Bud Poile

      I watched the games and listened to Ryan’s interview yesterday.
      It’s fairly obvious Ryan has a good read on the prospects and Carcone dominated that game.