NHL teams looking for a power forward with a scoring touch and the strength of an ox would do well to look no further than Lethbridge Hurricanes right wing Carter Ashton
Ashton, ranked No. 12 by NHL Central Scouting in its final rating of North American skaters, led the Hurricanes with 30 goals, including 10 on the power play, and was the team's fifth-leading scorer with 50 points. A solid 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, he starred at the NHL Scouting Combine. Ashton had the highest average grip strength, at 156 pounds for each hand, and had the highest push strength at 352 pounds.
"Power forward, power forward, power forward," said E.J. McGuire, the director of NHL Central Scouting. "He works the corners, works the front of the net, all the tough areas, with skill. He had 30 goals and 20 assists, and his 93 penalty minutes shows he's not afraid to mix it up. If those people try to move him out with authority, he asserts his right to that kind of territory. He has great focus and he finishes checks. Carter Ashton
is going to be a power forward in the National Hockey League."
"I work hard at both ends of the ice," Ashton said. "I'm responsible in my own zone and I produce points offensively."
Ashton was born in Winnipeg while his father, Brent, was playing for the Jets, one of eight NHL franchises he played for. Brent Ashton
had 284 goals and 629 points in 998 games with the Canucks, Rockies/Devils, North Stars, Nordiques, Red Wings, Jets, Bruins and Flames. Carter wears No. 18, the number his father wore with the Bruins.
coached his son in minor hockey for many years.
"I don't remember too much from when they (his uncle, Ron Ashton, also played in the WHA) were playing, but I definitely used my dad's knowledge as I was growing up playing hockey," Ashton said. "He was always there for me as a coach until I was about 13 or 14, so he's been a big influence on my hockey career so far."
Young Ashton knows his father's success was based on hard work. Brent Ashton
didn't lack talent, but it was his work ethic that kept him in the League so long.
"He wasn't anything fancy when he played in the National Hockey League -- he was a hard-nosed forward who went to the net," Carter Ashton
said. "That's one of the things I like to do, get to the net. When I was younger it was nice to have someone like him around. Now it's in my own hands and he understands that and he's taken a step back. It's my future now. He's been a big influence on me to this point.
"There's always hockey talk. It's definitely a big thing in my family. My dad played hockey. So did his brother, and my grandpa was always a coach. Hockey is one of the big topics in my family."
Ashton needed to have a strong season in 2008-09. His previous season was nearly wiped out by a fractured collarbone after he had just 5 goals and 9 points in 40 games.
His return from the injury coincided with the 2008 World U-17 Championship in London, Ont. Ashton was able to reunite there on Team West with a well-known trio of former midget teammates -- Brayden Schenn
, Jared Cowen
and Jimmy Bubnick
"He works the corners, works the front of the net, all the tough areas, with skill. He had 30 goals and 20 assists, and his 93 penalty minutes shows he's not afraid to mix it up. If those people try to move him out with authority, he asserts his right to that kind of territory. He has great focus and he finishes checks. Carter Ashton
is going to be a power forward in the National Hockey League." -- E.J. McGuire on Carter Ashton
Cowen is one of the few North American skaters ranked above Ashton. He's a good friend and big fan, and he predicts good things for Ashton.
"He's always been a stronger player," Cowen said. "He had a growth spurt before bantam and he's improved quite a bit. He didn't play much his first year of WHL at 16 because he hurt his collarbone. I think that opened the door for a lot of improvement over the next couple years."