Austin Carroll is a pretty good story.
Sure, it took him a while to get drafted – in fact, when the Flames took the then-20-year-old in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL draft, they probably could have just waited a little bit to sign him as an undrafted free agent. But they laid early claim to him instead, and quickly signed him to an entry-level deal.
They also brought him one step closer to fulfilling his ultimate dream: to one day play for the Calgary Flames.
Now, after one year of professional hockey with a Flames-coloured jersey with his name on it, is there any more to him than that?
Carroll played four seasons with the Victoria Royals, his last one as an overager after being drafted. It was the first time he’d ever been over a point per game player in the WHL: at 6’3 and 214 lbs., a man playing amongst boys.
Transitioning to professional hockey helps correct that. While there are other players Carroll’s age – 21 and 22-year-olds – in the AHL, there are guys much older than the junior competition he’d faced as well.
Carroll dressed in 53 games for the Heat, only missing out on 15 of them. Over that time, he scored six goals and 13 points: a .25 point per game pace. Not particularly high, but then again, we’re talking about a seventh round big body.
He tossed 65 shots on net along the way as well: 1.2 per game. Oh – and accumulated 74 penalty minutes. That’s a fair amount.
Impact on team
Carroll saw pretty regular time in Stockton with 53 games played: it was tied for 10th in most games played for the Heat. Now, some players below him lost time to NHL call-ups or injury, but Carroll could at least be relied upon as a regular bottom six roster-filler: one who occasionally put the puck in the net.
Carroll’s 13 points aren’t much, but they were tied for 14th in Heat scoring. That tie comes alongside Kenney Morrison, though: a defenceman who played nine fewer games. The only regular Heat forwards he outscored were Blair Riley, Morgan Klimchuk, and Hunter Smith.
While it’s also nice he was able to get a little over a shot per game playing in a depth role, it should again be noted that most everyone else was outshooting him. For all his offensive woes, Klimchuk did have 88 shots on net through 55 games: 1.6 shots per game. (Carroll still outshot Smith, however – but him and Riley were it for regular forwards.)
Oh, and all those penalty minutes? He tied with Riley for third-most on the team – Smith and Dustin Stevenson had them both beat with 90 and 104, respectively.
What comes next?
Carroll still has another two years left on his deal, but it’s difficult to see him playing above the AHL level. Maybe if the Flames are once again out of the playoffs he can get a reward call-up, but he’ll probably have to better his numbers to reach that stage.
As it stands, he’s big-bodied reliable enough AHL depth – and that very well might be his ceiling.