Daniel Carr emerged from relative obscurity as an undrafted, unrestricted free agent signee out of the Division One NCAA Union College programme. He led his team to a National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship in 2014 just before earning his two year entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens. During his time at Union College he scored 157 pts in 160 games which were good enough to leave him as Union’s all-time leading scorer.
In his first season as a professional in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs, he turned management’s heads with his work ethic and feisty style of play to lead the Bulldogs and all AHL rookies that season with a 24 goal performance.
He entered his second professional season competing for an NHL position. He had a solid camp but was unable to crack the Habs lineup. Upon his return to the AHL, he produced 10 goals in 24 games played which was a 31 goal pace. Based on his determined and productive play he more than earned a call up to Montreal to fill in for an injury depleted lineup. In his 23 games he scored six goals, three assists which is a 21 goal pace over a full season.
Carr is constantly on the attack, always driving to the net and loves to shoot from anywhere, but scores most of his goals within a few feet of the net. He is positionally sound and is difficult to knock off of the puck. It is a style reminiscent of Ryan Smyth, a player Carr grew up admiring as a Sherwood Park Alberta native. It is also a style that Canadiens’ fans are familiar with as it is one shared by Brendan Gallagher.
Carr does have weaknesses. His skating is not elite. He does have good overall speed but his first step isn’t as quick as some of the top players. In addition, Carr is not able to find an extra gear which can which limits his effectiveness. Yet he is very capable when playing in a middle six role. His size is said to be a detriment as well, but at 6 foot and 192 pounds he isn’t small, and his gritty style of play easily mitigates this factor.
Despite any areas in need of improvement, the 24 year old winger has already shown he is NHL-ready. Entering the upcoming training camp, Carr will be in competition not just as a 13th forward, but as a legitimate threat to win a top six role on the second line. He will have stiff competition for this position with Artturi Lehkonen, Sven Andrighetto and Charles Hudon, .
Carr is incredibly tenacious in pursuit of the puck, a style that would be beneficial on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Alexander Radulov who are projected to be the main duo on Montreal’s second line. Carr would also benefit greatly defensively by lining up with Plekanec as he would be capable of covering for any defensive lapses made by the young winger.
With 26 players on the roster as camp opens, working against Carr is the fact that he does not require waivers to be returned to the AHL. Even if he were to return to the IceCaps, it would most certainly be a temporary assignment. Carr has proven himself at every level thus far and it would only be a matter of time before he returns to the Canadiens lineup.
If Carr were to break into the lineup and play a full NHL season with steady production, we would be witnessing the beginning of a solid NHL career. We would expect to see a player that excels in playing around the crease and in the corners and would be able to produce a 20 goal season, maybe even 40-45 points.
It is nearly certain that Carr has the X-factor needed to be successful in the NHL. It is the heart and soul style that Montreal management covets, and that endears players like Carr and Gallagher to the fan base. Becoming successful NHL player would make Daniel Carr one of the great unheralded additions that Marc Bergevin was able to discover.