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:
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) September 11, 2017
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”
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) September 11, 2017
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.