Thursday, February 19, 2009

Caps high on Carlson

After a season in which he only played 20 regular season games, 25 year old Steve Eminger was shipped to the Phialdelphia Flyers along with the 84th overall pick of the 2008 draft, for the 27th overall.

Eminger - a first rounder in his own right - never quite developed into the all around defenseman he was projected to be after winning a Memorial Cup with the OHL's Kitchner Rangers (until becoming a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning).

Since young blue liner was never able to find his grove as a Cap, he was moved so that GM George McPhee could select a new defensive project, in 18 year old John Carlson.

Carlson was pegged as a late first round pick with the potential to go as high as the late teens. After selecting Anton Gustafsson 23rd overall and seeing that Carlson was still available, McPhee did all within his power to get another pick to use on Carlson.

So far it appears that the draft day move is paying off in spades.

After being selected in last year's draft, Carlson committed to the London Knight's of the OHL who selected him 33rd overall in the 2007 OHL Draft.

This year he has been able to play with the likes of fellow Capitals prospect Justin Taylor, Michael Del Zotto, and future NHL draft pick John Tavares; just to name a few.

It is there that he has flourished into a versatile defenseman who can take care of himself in both ends of the rink.

Through 49 games, Carlson has registered a whopping 61 points (13G, 48), which ranks second in the league in both points by a defenseman and points by a rookie.

Not only that, but he is asked to play big minutes on the Knight's penalty kill as he is one of their most sound defenders, all while logging upwards of 30 minutes a night.

The Midwest Division leading Knight's are looking to make their way to winning their second Memorial Cup in 4 years, and will rely heavily on Carlson to get the job done in all facets of the game.

His success in all areas of his game has Assistant coach Pat Curcio gushing over his NHL Potential.
"That's why he's a No. 1 NHL pick," Curcio said. "The only thing you can say is elite, he's elite as well."
It isn't too much to fathom that Carlson could be NHL ready as soon as next year. He showed great promise in preseason camp this past fall with the Capitals, and one could believe that if he can continue to impress, he could go professional next season.

Time will ultimately tell, and Carlson still has time left to develop his game in London. But right now, George McPhee is sitting in his office...


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