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.
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.
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.