All season long, Chicago Wolves forward Daniel Carr has been the team’s de facto engine starter. And in the club’s second to last tune-up in advance of the this week’s American Hockey League‘s All-Star break, Carr scored his team leading 21st goal of the season in a 5-1 road victory against the Cleveland Monsters.
Carr, who spent parts of three seasons playing for the Montreal Canadiens from 2015-2018, has dominated the AHL ranks this season with the Wolves, and he’s proving he can consistently be a difference maker.
With his previous organization, the Sherwood Park, Alberta native was seen as somewhat of a spark plug who got his nose dirty and played the game with tenacity. But the 27-year-old also displayed a certain degree of skill, that exceeded what most NHL fourth liners typically have to offer. This made it possible for Carr to play up and down the lineup during his tenure in the Canadiens organization.
His skills have been on full display for Wolves fans to see since the regular season began in October, and once again last Thursday in Cleveland when he undressed Monsters goaltender Jean-Francois Berube and put a backhander top-shelf, in the third period of the hockey game.
While Carr is obviously enjoying his success with the Wolves this season, his ultimate goal is to get back to National Hockey League as a regular. Just like his teammate Brandon Pirri, who is finally being rewarded with an extended call up with the Vegas Golden Knights, Carr is hoping that his play in the AHL won’t go unnoticed. And this involves staying patient, but very focused.
“I think it’s one of those things where you’re a pro, and you kind of just [need to] be a pro every day is probably the best way to put it,” said Carr.
“[You gotta} trust in yourself, and remind yourself that each year is a marathon. Last year I started in the minors, and ended the year at almost half a point per game in the NHL. It’s one of those things that’s a marathon,” he added.
The left winger not only leads his team in scoring, he also leads the entire league with 53 points this season, and he’s only played in 38 games with the Wolves. With an ‘A’ now stitched onto his jersey, Carr is looked at as one of the team’s leaders, and he stresses the importance of taking young players under his wing the way guys like ex Habs teammate Tomas Plekanec once did for him.
“That’s a pretty easy one. Plekanec. He takes a lot of heat in the media there, but honestly he’s the man. He’s so awesome. Especially when I was first coming up and there were some games where I played with [Lars Eller], or him, I learned more in those games than I ever have. Like him and Markov, those guys are total pros,” said Carr.
When injuries hit the Vegas Golden Knights in November, Carr was called up, and played six games at the NHL level for the first and only time since last season. Having singed a two-way contract with the Golden Knights last July, Carr does not have to clear waivers in order to be sent down, which has turned out to be a luxury given how well the forward has performed.
According to Ryan Quigley, who pens the blog Knights On Ice, Carr was extremely noticeable during his brief stint with the Golden Knights earlier this season, and he’d be curious to see the undrafted Carr earn another shot this year.
“If there’s one area of Carr’s game that stood out to me during his stint in Vegas, it’s definitely his nose for the puck. Carr only managed to score once in six games for the Knights, but he had a hand in a number of high-danger chances in those six appearances,” said Quigley.
However, Quigley does admit that with the depth Vegas has, opportunities might be scarce.
“It’ll be pretty difficult for Carr to make an impact in the NHL right now. The Golden Knights were plagued by injuries early in the season, which is what led to his earlier opportunity,” Quigley explained.
“If the injury bug strikes again, it’s possible he could get another shot with the big club, but considering the emergence of Brandon Pirri, the eventual return of Reilly Smith and the signing of Valentin Zykov, Carr would have an uphill battle earning ice time in the season’s home stretch,” he added.
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