Photo Credit: YouTube

How The Michael Carcone Trade Affects The Utica Comets

Michael Carcone For Josh Leivo

In Vancouver, it will be known as the Josh Leivo trade, but the move will also have an effect on the Utica Comets going forward.

The Vancouver Canucks announced this week that they had traded undrafted forward, Michael Carcone to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward, Josh Leivo. Leivo played his first game for Vancouver last night and scored a goal with his first shot on net for the club. That was a solid first impression to make. This post will not be focused on Leivo, however, as I write about the Utica Comets, I wanted to take a quick look at how this move effects them instead.

Michael Carcone is a 22-year-old winger who has wheels for days and can play with an edge in his game. The five-foot-ten, 172lbs, (according to Elite Prospects) forward was another undrafted find for the Canucks who has shown steady progress since signing his first pro deal. He is currently in the last year of his entry-level contract.

Carcone played in 61 games for the Comets in his rookie season, putting up five goals and 13 assists, giving him 18 points on the season. He also spent 31 minutes in the penalty box. I was not writing about the Comets yet in his first season, so I cannot personally speak about his play that year.

In his second year, he played in 68 contests, picking up 15 goals and 12 assists to give himself 27 points. He spent 71 minutes in the box last year as his aggressive style of play saw his time behind bars go up. Tripling his goal total from year-one to year-two was a pretty impressive feat, especially considering how much time he spent with Cole Cassels as his pivot. Cassels did great work on the defensive side of things in Utica last year, but a playmaker he was not.

Carcone also spent time on both special teams last year, playing the point on the second unit power play at times. He became more important to the club as the season wore on, using his speed and tenacity to create havoc on the forecheck, forcing turnovers on the regular. He also pushed the pace when he was on the ice, again using his speed to back off defenders and create room for himself and his linemates. I can’t count how many times I wrote about him taking the puck hard to the net with speed over the last season and a bit.

Carcone’s skating sets him apart from many on the ice, but it was often his never-ending motor that caught my eye. He wasn’t a player that I saw taking shifts off.

This season, Carcone started as one of the first cuts out of Vancouver’s camp and was amongst the healthy scratches with the rookie group that cycled in and out of the lineup to start the season. What did he do when he finally did get into the lineup? He picked up an assist and followed that up with a goal the next night.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Carcone has played in 20 games this year for the Comets, picking up six goals and 11 assists to give himself 17 points. That is a pretty staggering 0.85 points/game. I don’t expect that torrid pace to continue, but I do expect the young winger to have another career year. That is some pretty fine progression from year-one to year-three.

He has once again been an all situations player this year and looked like he was starting to build some chemistry on a line with Zack MacEwen, often being paired with TheBigFella on the penalty kill as well. Trent Cull might have a tough time swallowing this trade from a coach’s standpoint as he has lost a player who has been a bit of a Swiss Army Knife for him since last year.

All of this said, there is now a door open for another player/players, to take on some of those minutes in Utica. The coaching staff will have to determine if those minutes will go to another young player, or if they will lean on their vets a little harder.

The players themselves will have some say in the matter as well if they are able to grab the bull by the horns when they do get a look. Young players like Kole Lind, Lukas Jasek, Tanner MacMaster, and Jonathan Dahlen will need to step up their offensive games and take advantage to help make up for those lost points, while others could get looks on the penalty kill once they are a little more up to speed.

Alternatively, it could very well be the more experienced players like Reid Boucher, Tanner Kero, Darren Archibald, Zack MacEwen, Brendan Gaunce, Carter Bancks, Cam Darcy, Brendan Woods, and Wacey Hamilton, (when healthy) who could end up eating up the bulk of those minutes.

Advertisement - Continue Commenting Below

My guess would be that there will be a compromise of sorts where the coaching staff might identify a couple of young players who they want to keep in close proximity to specific vets to help certain areas of their games and as such, we might see a blend with the younger players cycling into bigger roles in different games to see who can handle the task handed to them.

If there was one thing that coach Cull proved last season, it was that if a young player was given an opportunity in a role and ran with it, he kept them there. Zack MacEwen, Jalen Chatfield, and Guillaume Brisebois are prime examples of this.

It will be up to the young players to step up and take advantage when the opportunity arises, otherwise, there will be another player right behind him waiting for his turn.

The Comets are starting to get healthier, as well as having players returned from Vancouver. The depth down the middle is still thin, while the wings are chock-full of players who need to play. Trent Cull’s juggling act will have to continue as he rotates players in and out of the lineup while trying to keep his team competitive.

I know that there were a lot of players ahead of him on the wings in Vancouver, but I wonder if there will come a time when fans see Carcone suiting up in NHL games and wishing he was still around. I’m not saying that Carcone is a sure-fire NHL regular by any means. I am saying that I think there is a chance that he could show up in a team’s bottom six one day and be a player that is easy for fans to get behind with his determined style of play and the speed that he can bring…oh, that speed.

The Comets are back on the ice today at 7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific when they take on the Rochester Americans for game number 25 of the season.

  • wojohowitz

    I expected better from the Comets this season but I recently realized they have six rookies on their roster and it is a tough league. Gadjovich, Palmu, Lind, Dahlen, Jasek and Juolevi. That is a very good start for a development league and maybe Benning can add three or four more next season. He is doing a great job in that respect.

    • Worth remembering that Demko was injured for most of the season so far and the Comets’ goaltending was just atrocious in his absence. I think this is probably a better team than their current record indicates – we’ll see going forward.

      • Matty T

        Yah, also worth remembering…

        “All the rookies should remain in Utica for the full season. The Comets are headed for the top of the AHL standings. Isn’t the justification for these terrible FA signings that the young players need to develop in a “winning environment”? The Comets are that.” Goon

        Foot-meet-mouth, what a deluded laugher you are Goof!

  • TheRealRusty

    What does it say about organizational planning when there is such a dearth of centers and such an abundance of wingers? Why is Gagner not in Utica to help with the center ice problem? What does it say about paying someone $3+ million a year not to be part of your organization? If I were the team owner I would be absolutely livid with the cavalier attitude management spends my money…

    • DJ_44

      “Dearth of Centers”? The Comets have MacEwen, Gaunce, Kero, MacMaster…. and that is with Gaudette with the Canucks. Planning is being able to put young players in positions to succeed.

  • argoleas

    I do expect Carcone to be a good addition to the Leafs system, and could make the Leafs either next season or the one after that as they look for inexpensive players to fill out their cap-challenged roster. I do not see how Leafs keep Kapanen next year, and that will likely have a percolating effect, where a Carcone could fit in as a 12th or 13th forward, especially since he will be waiver-eligible (interestingly, the same issue Leivo had).

  • Bud Poile

    The Aquilini family is worth $3.3 billion.
    Gagner’s remaining cap hit is $1.4 million.
    That is .00042 of a percentage point of their latest,rough wealth tabulation .
    Gagner has played 25% of the Canucks games and is an asset to trade.
    Pennies and dimes….

    • TheRealRusty

      Another lame Bud “GMJB’s jockstrap” Poile reply. Billionaires dont get to be billionaires by maximizing on the returns to their investment (unless they are newly minted tech billionaires). And if you think that Gager (who has already been passed through waivers) has any trade value, then I have a couple of bridges to sell you…

      • Matty T

        Hahaha post of the day right here… Dud completely humilated, but not concussed, just utterly braindead.

        “The goal is not to have Gagner playing in the AHL but trading him so he can continue his career,lose the contract,gain a draft pick/player,etc..” Bud Poile


      • Part of being successful in business is learning how to manage people.

        Gagner is in Toronto as a condition of him reporting to the AHL rather than refusing to report, demanding a trade, and sitting out. His family is there.

        Players aren’t just “assets”, they’re human beings, and deserve to be treated as such. The fact that the Canucks are willing to loan Gagner to the Marlies looks good on the organization, which matters when your’e dealing with people. You get a reputation for screwing over your free agent signings, you’re going to have a hard time signing free agents.

        • TheRealRusty

          Fact is that the Canucks overpaid Gagner in both term and salary to sign here as an UFA. There are tons of variables that he could have controlled:

          1) signed for a short term and/or a lower salary with a NMC,
          2) do extra work to arrive in camp faster, stronger and more skilled in order to compete for a roster spot

          That he chose to do neither, which means that he should be a professional and suck it up. That he gets beat out in camp by Schaller and Gaudette, failing to make a paper thin Canucks squad is even more damning. That you cannot trust him to acts as a professional and mentor our kids in Utica tells me of his character and how management once again failed in their assessments of FA signings.

        • TheRealRusty

          And maybe getting screwed as a destination for FA signings might not be a bad thing for this management team if you look at their track record with UFAs. Of all the players signed, I would only consider Miller, Vanek and Stecher to be the only success. The rest of them are stinkers in terms of contract or performance.

  • Kanuckhotep

    People should buy in whole heartedly that what happens with the Comets is every bit as important as what happens with the Canucks. This NHL is now more than ever a youth and development league and for any kind of positive future prospects are everything. Gone are the old school days of trading away 1st round picks for old Name Retreads and pulling the wool over GM’s eyes like they use to. (What’s happening with Rick Nash?) Getting it right with the Utica kids is crucial for success because FA signings aren’t going to save your line up like it use to.