Posted by Christopher Nardella, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine
BROSSARD, QC. — In the midst of Habs development camp, Daniel Carr is no blip on the Canadiens’ radar. Barring a move that fills the Canadiens’ need for a scoring winger, there will be a heated competition in this fall’s training camp to add offense. The players anticipated to be in contention for the spot will be the likes of Nikita Scherbak, Sven Andrighetto, Mike McCarron, Charles Hudon and Christian Thomas. But don’t rule out the Sherwood Park, Alberta native.
The 23-year old Carr has a grinder-like playing style with a splash of skill, a player who never stops moving and always goes hard to the net. There is a temptation to compare the second year pro to the Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher. But Carr has additional attributes such as a heavy shot and using his body to lean on players to establish inside position. Like Gallagher, Carr has the intelligence to find to open spaces on the ice to create scoring opportunities for himself.
When the Canadiens signed Daniel Carr in April 2014 there wasn’t much buzz among Habs fans and media. Was this just a depth signing by Habs management?
But All Habs editor-in-chief Rick Stephens knew differently. Carr’s performance had caught the eye of Stephens when he was in Philadelphia for the 2014 Frozen Four Championship. The underrated Union Dutchmen had beaten the powerhouse teams from Minnesota and Boston College to claim the 2014 Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship.
Carr played the left side on Union’s top line with freshman centre Mike Vecchione and right-winger Daniel Ciampini. Carr showed no reluctance to go to the net, possessed a solid shot with a quick release, had a good hockey IQ and was defensively-responsible throughout the tournament.
Carr started out his junior career as a 15-year old playing for the St. Albert Steel of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He scored 16 goals and 28 assists in 59 games but went scoreless in the five playoff games the Steel had after finishing 7th in the North Division. Like most junior players, Carr came into his own in his second year in the league with 28 goals and 55 points in 59 games and was the team’s second leading scorer behind Bryce Williamson.
Carr started the 2009-10 season with the Steel but left the team for the BCHL’s Powell River Kings but not before scoring 24 goals and 30 assists in 30 games. When the winger joined the River Kings he recorded 10 goals and 27 points in 22 games. He kicked it into high gear during the playoffs where he scored 15 goals and added 11 assists in 23 games on way to a loss in the finals against Vernon.
The next year he attended Union college and had a strong freshman year with 20 goals and 35 points in 40 games leading the team in goals and finishing third on the team in points. He also finished third in the ECAC in goals, three behind the league leader Greg Carey. Union finished first in the regular season but lost in the eastern conference semifinals.
In the forwards’ sophomore year in college he tallied the exact same amount of goals but his assists went up to 20 giving him his first point per game season in college. For the second straight season he finished third on the Dutchmen in points but was second in goals to 23 year old Jeremy Welsh who had 27 goals. He finished fifth in the league in goals, 16 behind Austin Smith. He finished eighth in the league in points, six points behind Alex Killorn who finished third. For the second straight year Union dominated in the regular season, finishing first but this year they won the league championship.
Before the season started, Carr attended the Hawks and Bruins’ training camps but thankfully for the Canadiens he didn’t sign a contract. In the then 20-year old’s third season in college he had his first season where he didn’t crack the 20-goal mark but with 16 he still lead the team in goals. He finished sixth in the league in goals and Union finished 4th however they still won the league title for the second straight year.
In Carr’s senior season at Union college he really lit up the scoreboard with 22 goals and 50 points in 39 games finishing third in the league in goals, fourth in assists and second in points in the ECAC restoring the Dutchmen to their first place status. They not only won the league championship but also won their first national title. At the end of the season Carr became Union college’s all-time goals leader (78) and points leader (155.) He also set a school record for points in a season.
Following Union’s national championship, Carr signed with the Canadiens in April 2014 as a free agent. He went on to play with the Hamilton Bulldogs and had quite the first professional season. He was the rookie scoring leader with 24 goals in 76 games playing on one of the best lines in the AHL with Charles Hudon and Sven Andrighetto for the second half of the season. He was also tied for 10th in the league in goals. In April, Carr played a lot of tough minutes against the AHL’s best lines when he was paired with captain Gabriel Dumont. Carr was named the AHL Rookie of the month for February.
Amongst all the candidates that could make the roster I believe Carr is the most NHL ready. He plays a full 200 foot game, is almost 200 pounds and his grinder-like playing style not only tailors to the NHL game but more importantly fits with Michel Therrien’s system.
If the rosters stay the way they are right now, should he make the team, he would slot in as the team’s third line left winger playing with Lars Eller and either Kassian or Weise. Chances are if the 23-year-old is playing with Eller he will have more defensive zone starts but his strong defensive ability and speed should translate into success.