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FlamesNation prospect wrap-up: Austin Carroll

Expectations are never high for seventh round picks. After all, they’re seventh round picks for a good reason. They’re usually guys you take flyers on and hope they can progress to being somewhat of an NHL player. Not a regular top sixer, and maybe not even a regular bottom sixer, but a guy who can perhaps provide handy depth should there be an injury crisis or underperforming regulars.

Austin Carroll falls in line with that trajectory. He was selected by the Flames for his size, scoring, and work ethic although he was an overager as a 20-year-old in the WHL. Despite some flaws, it was hoped that the spark plug could refine his game and eventually work his way into the conversation for an NHL roster spot.

To this date, he has been a spark plug. Does that mean an NHL future? His most recent season puts that in extreme doubt.

Background

Carroll was a relatively anonymous yet steadily improving WHLer. He didn’t get to play in his first eligible season, sticking for another year in the BCHL instead. When he joined the Royals in his draft year, he put up a measly 20 points in 62 games. His second season was a major improvement, jumping to 42 points in 67 games.

An invite to dev camp and an impressive 2013-14 season (57 points in 70 games, second in team scoring) convinced the Flames select Carroll in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Given the emphasis on size and truculence, the 6’3 RW with 114 PIMs was a natural fit. He returned to Victoria for one more season, leading the Royals with 77 points in 57 games.

His pro career has been quieter thus far. His rookie season saw him pick up 13 points in 53 games. Injuries and scratched hampered his second year, but he had a modest improvement with 15 points in 46 games.

2017-18 story

Carroll had a rough start to the season. Rough as in he didn’t play for the first three weeks and then only played sparingly, hitting 11 games by the time the calendar switched over to 2018 (Stockton had played 30 by that point). After enough call-ups had found their way to Calgary, Carroll was a regular fourth liner, doing what most energy guys do best. He mostly remained in the lineup, occasionally subbing out every so often, but at least played once on a week-to-week basis. That stopped when Dillon Dube came to town, and all of a sudden he was back out (until Morgan Klimchuk got hurt/scratched for whatever reason late in the year).

The numbers

GP G A P Primary points 5v5 Points 5v5 Primary points NHLe
AHL 42 5 2 7 6 7 6 6.42

That chart pretty much tells you all you need to know if the numbers didn’t already. Of course it’s hard to score from the fourth line and the press box, but that was Carroll’s role in 2016-17 and he had twice the production. That’s not great for a player who was taken partially because of his year-to-year improvements in the WHL. No one was expected 40 points, but to be held to single digits over 42 games is very concerning.

The future

Carroll’s sparing usage and lack of production should be an easy indicator of his future: he’s probably not going to be qualified.

He can be a shot in the arm when things aren’t going right, but that’s about his only selling point and Carroll isn’t even the best on the team in that regard (Ryan Lomberg is). He hasn’t been much of a scorer at the AHL level and is unlikely to turn into one at age 24. I can’t see why the Flames would use a contract spot on him (given that they’re likely giving a spot to Yasin Ehliz, it is more bad news for Carroll) given how far away he is from the NHL.

Perhaps Carroll should’ve been given better opportunities this year in Stockton, but he didn’t make the most of what he had and is now (likely) on his way out. Sucks.

Housekeeping note: if you do not own a Twitter account and would like to submit questions to the FlamesNation mailbag, there is now an email address! Flamesnationmailbag@gmail.com is the place to send them in.

Previously

Morgan Klimchuk | Hunter Shinkaruk | Spencer Foo | Rasmus Andersson | Tyler Wotherspoon | Oliver Kylington | Josh Healey & Adam Ollas Mattsson | Mitchell Mattson | Hunter Smith | Mason McDonald | Tyler Parsons | Juuso Valimaki | Nick Schneider | Adam Ruzicka | Matthew Phillips | D’Artagnan Joly | Glenn Gawdin | Zach Fischer | Dillon Dube | Filip Sveningsson | Eetu Tuulola | Adam Fox | Linus Lindstrom | Pavel Karnaukhov & Rushan Rafikov

  • Speed Kills

    There is a good chance that Caroll’s future with the Heat/Flames comes down to how New Coach Cail MacLean valued Caroll.
    If MacLean saw something in Caroll more so than Huska did, then there is a chance he may want to bring Caroll back for one more year as a “show me what you can really do” with some new rolls on the team or what have you. If Cail MacLean has no interest in bringing in Caroll back….Well I think he might go to FA status and be given a chance somewhere else. Its too bad the Kid seemed to lose way a bit with whatever was going on down in Stockton this past year. I was really pulling for the kid.

    • Flamethrower

      @Speed Kills I have to agree, I followed him thru Junior and had high expectations for him size, speed, skill and toughness. With the proper nurturing felt that the flames may have had a diamond in the ruff. in hockey as in life things don’t always workout the way we want them to go.

    • MacLean has no say in contract stuff and I doubt the Flames will pay five figures to keep around an older AHL fourth liner just because the coach likes him. There’s a batch of younger and better prospects coming in anyways, no need to hang onto the likeable depth guy.

      • freethe flames

        Who is this batch? I count 3 forwards at this moment(Dube, Phillips, Gawdin); 4 if you include Zach Fischer who is IMO another Carroll. Not that I disagree with you on whether Carroll will be resigned I doubt he will. But there is not a large number of prospects joining the Flames organization this off season. maybe I’m missing someone and if I am please let us know.

        • MDG1600

          I wonder if any of Calgarys european draft choices are candidates to can come over. I wouldn’t mind seeing a guy like Eetu Tuulola in Stockton to see what he can do. Or maybe Svenningson or Lindstrom.

          • freethe flames

            Personally I was disappointed when ET when back to Europe but what it does do is allow the Euros to develop a bit before they sign contracts. I believe and I may be wrong(that’s happened lots in regards to the CBA) but the young Euros like you mention need permission to come over and many of their teams would allow this for the NHL but not the AHL. If these 3 guys you mentions plus the 3 CHL guys were coming over then it would be a batch of guys.

        • Simple math. Among current AHLers, you have Klimchuk, Poirier, Shinkaruk, and Carroll as RFAs. You’re also likely losing one of Mangiapane or Foo (for the sake of, we’ll say both). That’s six you have to replace, so adding three players puts you down three.

          But they’re going to re-sign Klimchuk at the very least, which now means five gone, four in, down one. They’re maybes, but they could also re-sign Poirier (likely) and Shinkaruk (unlikely). If you re-sign one of them, you are now up one. Where is the room for Carroll in all of that? (also discounting the potential of Lindstrom and Tuulola coming over, or any European/college FA)

          If you’re looking at pure intake, three is a decent class for forwards. Last year they only added Foo to the team (Pollock if you count ECHL promotion). The year before was Jankowski and Mangiapane. Year before that was Shinkaruk (via trade) and Klimchuk. You generally don’t take in a whole line’s worth of 20 year old CHLers in the AHL. Three isn’t a big number but it’s a pretty big intake relatively speaking.

          • freethe flames

            When I read the words a batch of younger and better prospects I guess I imagined guys who were not already part of the organization. That’s at least how I read it to mean. There may be guys yet to be signed from Europe or the NCAA but as of yet none have been announced and the guys out of Europe will not likely be younger better maybe. I don’t disagree with you that there is likely no room for Carroll of Hunter Smith either. I still wonder who they will sign to fill some of the older spots for the Heat.

          • freethe flames

            As the season came an end you were quite critical of Poirier and I recall you did not think the Flames would or should resign him, today it appears that you think the Flames will resign him. I may be putting words in your mouth but (likely) suggests that you think it will get done; I know it might not mean you would do that but I just wanted your take as to why the needle has been moved.

    • Hockeysense9393

      Sorry…but I don’t think keeping Carroll is up to MacLean making that decision. It’s up to BT and brass to decide if they want to reserve a signing position and valuable ice time to a energy (sometime) player. He’s 24, so I can’t see that happening now, especially with more players coming in this year that still have upside to show. Strictly a professional minor league contract maybe? …but not a 2 way roster burn.

  • Honkydonk

    No it does not suck.. this guy has had years to choose himself if he ever wants to become an NHL player or not. Truth is he either did not put in the da development work needed or he simply does not have the talent.

    Either way his time taking a roster contract instead of a possible prospect with higher ceiling is up

  • freethe flames

    Boy it’s a boring day: maybe it’s the weather. The two articles on FN are not overly exciting(I’m not blaming the writers as it is the dog days of the off season and BT is not giving them anything to write about). I asked a few days ago if any of the writers were doing an article on what they would do to make the organization better and CT said they are working on it. A round table discussion would be good.