Plucked from the NCAA as a Free Agent, Daniel Carr was a rather unknown commodity for Montreal Canadiens fans when he was signed. But after his rookie season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, that changed in a hurry. Carr put up 24 goals and 39 total points that year, and really made a name for himself.
Carr moved with the Bulldogs to St. John's, and picked up right where he left off with the IceCaps. With 10 goals and 11 assists in just 24 games last year, the injury-riddled Canadiens could see what they had down on the farm, and enlisted his services with the big club.
And his audition was a rousing success. He put up six goals and three assists through 23 games with the club, which would have put him on a 20-goal pace over a full season. Unfortunately, a knee injury knocked him out of the lineup for a few months, which is what limited him to just 23 games.
If not for that injury, he surely would not have been going back down to St. John's based on the way he was playing. He turned heads in a big way, and seems to have proven that he just might be too good to be playing in the AHL this coming season.
Though a few ballots had him just outside the top-10 at 11th, most had him in the 5-10 range.
Top 25 Under 25 History
After being signed, he debuted at 28th, because he was very unknown. That rookie AHL year earned him a massive bump to number 16 in 2015. He is one of the bigger movers yet again this time around, jumping nine spots thanks to what he showed us last year.
There is a reason that Carr was a prolific scorer in the NCAA, and then in the AHL. He goes to the net. A lot. Naturally, he draws comparisons to Brendan Gallagher for this, and these comparisons are not unwarranted. He's a high-volume shooter who takes a lot of his shots in a high-percentage area. His game is very similar to Gallagher's.
He also boasts impressive puck skills, passing, and positional awareness. When he gets the puck in the offensive zone, he does a great job of finding his teammates, and then working his way back to that sweet spot in front of the net. If he gets loose, he can make goalies move before depositing the puck into the net behind them.
In essence, he is the complete package at the offensive end, and he doesn't need to change a thing there.
It would be tough to call his skating elite, as he is probably more middle of the pack in terms of NHL skaters. He has good speed, but lacks the elite edgework and acceleration that you see in top tier skaters. If he could work on his skating a little bit, he could become quite the terrifying scoring threat.
As mentioned, he does have great positioning, but I feel that he lacks the defensive acumen he may need if the Canadiens were to use him in tough minutes. That being said, if he gets to spend some time working with a player like Tomas Plekanec, say on the second line, any deficiencies he has there would be mitigated.
Even though he stands at 6'0" and weighs around 190, size is often brought up as a weakness for him as well. I think this needs to be put to bed, as players like him and Gallagher have conclusively proved that you can play a bigger man's game with the right tenacity and nose for the net.
Daniel Carr is an NHL-ready player, but the fact that he is one of few such players who wouldn't require waivers to be sent to St. John's is a major obstacle in him being a regular this year. He deserves a roster spot, and he could probably even challenge for top-six minutes, but that works very strongly against him.
His ceiling is like that of Brendan Gallagher, in that you can't really put one on him. He was never drafted, and he proved that to be a big oversight. Not much was expected of him at the AHL level, but he turned heads there too. Any time he seems set up to fail, he surpasses expectations.
He's tenacious in his pursuit of the puck, and has absolutely no qualms about going to the front of the net. He has a pretty impressive set of wheels, puck skills, and a deceptive shot to finish with. He absolutely has the potential to be a top-six forward in an offensive role with the Canadiens.
I see it more as a matter of when Daniel Carr will be a regular, because it seems inevitable. The Habs need more scoring in their lineup right now, and Car provides that in spades. If they can't carve him out a spot in the season-opening lineup, I'd bet any money that he'll be the very first call they make should the need arise.
It is very apparent that he is ready to make the permanent jump now, but we'll have to wait and see if the aforementioned waiver situation has him start the year in St. John's.