Thursday, November 19, 2009

I hope John Carlson gets a sweater tomorrow

John Carlson, first round draft pick of the Caps in the 2008 entry draft, is practicing at Kettler Iceplex because Milan Jurcina and Shane Morrisonn are both nursing injuries.  I'm going to the game tomorrow night and I want to see Carlson make his NHL debut.  

I first watched Carlson play in the Caps rookie development camp the summer of '08 and, boy, was I impressed.  I haven't been following prospects or rookies for that long, so I don't know a lot about evaluating rookies, but Carlson stood out to me.  I went back to watch him play when the Caps played the Flyers in the rookie scrimmage and, again, his smart hockey sense, great play along the boards, hard hitting, precision passing out of the zone, and offensive prowess all made him my favorite prospect that camp.

The thing I liked most about Carlson beyond his athletic ability is his willingness to do whatever it takes to play in the show.  Coach Boudreau apparently spent some time telling Carlson after that first rookie camp what he needed to do to succeed in terms of training and effort.  Carlson took him at his word and came into rookie camp showing it this year, even after playing an extended season through the OHL and the Hershey Bears championship run.  

Carlson looked like a veteran out there directing the defensive plays.  The suicides didn't leave him gasping.  He was completely comfortable.  Carlson got cut before too long during the Caps camp because Boudreau wanted him back in Hershey knowing he'd start his season there. 

Between camps, I followed his career while he played for the OHL London Knights under the tutelage of Coach Dale Hunter.  What better person to mentor the young Carlson I couldn't imagine (as a Caps fan anyway).  Carlson played great racking up 16 goals and 60 assists for 76 points in 59 games while playing +23 hockey.  Not bad!  Then, he went on to play 16 games for the Hershey Bears in their successful quest to win another Calder Cup, getting 3 points and playing +3 hockey.

Now, I don't expect much from Carlson tomorrow night, I'm just excited by the possibility of seeing him play.  He's the real deal and is going to be an impact player in the NHL.  I can't wait to see him develop.

If you get that sweater tomorrow, John, good luck!  I'll be cheering for you.

Let's go Caps!

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