Daniel Carr

From the moment the puck dropped on the Hamilton Bulldogs’ 2014-2015 campaign, it was evident that rookie forward Daniel Carr belonged in the league. The 22-year-old scored in his AHL debut, redirecting a nice pass from Charles Hudon into the back of the net. Carr also tallied an assist in the game, and played an excellently overall. Fast forward 54 games into the year, and Carr leads the ‘Dogs in goals with 16, including 10 in his last 16 games, and is tied for fourth in points with 27. Yet, even with his strong contributions, Carr remains an unknown to many Habs fans.

Following the quick start Carr went pointless for the next eight games. Over the course of that stretch, he was bounced around the lineup. Despite his slump, and a diminished role at times, he kept on working, and was rewarded with a two-goal, three-point performance versus Rochester on November 4th. From that point on, Carr just got better and better.

Unfortunately, the hard work wasn’t always reflected in the boxscore. Carr would have another near month-long wait until he would score again, finding twine with a quality finish in the blue paint. He scored a few games later against Toronto with a quick release in the slot, and three games after that against Rochester. Carr would once again struggle to find twine afterwards, but racked up seven assists in the 12 games between goals.

On February 14th versus Milwaukee, Carr picked up the puck high in the offensive zone, stepped into a slapshot, and hammered the puck past the goaltender–a goal he scored many times at Union College, but the first of its kind with Hamilton. From there, he got even better.

Carr would finally tally his first powerplay goal against Grand Rapids on January 17th, a clinic finish in the blue paint, and added his second goal with man-advantage the following game. Carr’s newly-found confidence carried over into February, as he has scored seven goals in nine games. All seven of which have been excellent finishes in a variety of matters (quality finishes in or just outside of the blue paint, snipes in the slot, and a nice breakaway goal), demonstrating his full arsenal of offensive weapons.

Since scoring against Rochester on December 12th, Carr has posted 19 points in 29 games (0.66 PPG), including 11 goals. In the past 16 games, he has a very impressive 10 gaols. He has racked up 130 shots, which is second on the ‘Dogs, just one behind Gabriel Dumont, and ahead of rookie phenom and shot machine, Charles Hudon.

The left wing has proved to be capable of scoring in a variety of ways at the AHL level already, just like he did in the NCAA as Union College’s all-time leading scorer. Carr excels in the low slot and blue paint, where he’s much stronger than his 6’00” 190-pound frame would indicate. As he has done multiple times this year, he’s able to score while under pressure, thanks to a tremendous understanding of body positioning and excellent balance. With a release that is unmatched by most in the AHL, a powerful and accurate shot, the rare ability to slip away from defenders, and quick hands, he’s able to make the rigorous act of cashing in the low slot and blue paint look simplistic.

Carr is also a capable long-range shooter, as proven by his prowess from the top of the right circle with Union. However, it hasn’t been as prominent in the AHL. With more time and patience, he will surely add it to his toolbox.

For the most part, Carr is a simple player. He possesses well above-average work ethic, hockey sense, and shooting ability, but he is by no means a flashy or physical player. While technically-sound, Carr doesn’t own breakaway speed or an explosive first few steps. Instead, he relies on solid edge work, deceptive speed, and smart decisions. One-on-one he will rarely wow, instead opting to push the puck where he wants to go and win the ensuing foot race. As a playmaker, he doesn’t particularly impress, as he tends to elect for shorter, safer passes or beginning the cycle. As mentioned earlier, he’s physically aware and well-balanced, allowing for him to be a solid cycler.

In the neutral and defensive zones, Carr thrives. He’s highly intelligent, especially on the back check. He takes straightforward routes and has a knack for cutting off passing lanes; however, he could stand to be more aggressive one-on-one. In sustained pressure scenarios, Carr understands where to be and frequently enables an easy breakout. A fearless player, Carr shows a willingness block shots and engage physically.

Perhaps what makes Carr such a successful player is his insatiable work ethic. Through the thick and thin this season, Carr has worked hard. It doesn’t matter the score, his point totals, or if he’s going through a slump or not–he always works hard. On a gamely basis, Carr is always one of, if not the hardest working player on the ice. His endless motor makes him successful as a 200-foot player, and successful as a well-rounded goalscoring threat. It’s a cliché, but he has plenty of heart.

Carr just keeps getting better and better as the season wears on. Realistically he’s behind other young professional forwards, such as Sven Andrighetto, Jacob de la Rose, Charles Hudon, and Christian Thomas, but considering Carr’s work ethic, smarts, skill and recent success, he very well could propel himself up the depth chart. It’s all up to him, and it looks like Carr is up to the task.