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Carr Hoping to Turn New Opportunity into Full-Time Role with Preds

Reigning AHL MVP Has Knack for Creating Offense, Wants to Do So in Nashville

by Simon Gibbs @SimonGibbs26 / NashvillePredators.com

He started his career with glory - the type of moment most hockey players can only ever dream of as a child.

On Dec. 5, 2015, when Daniel Carr first suited up in an NHL uniform, he did not disappoint. In fact, to call his performance a rarity would be an understatement.

Roughly a year after winning an NCAA Championship with Union College, Carr joined an exclusive club in his Montreal Canadiens debut.

In the very first shift of his first career game, Carr picked up a loose puck beside the net and slipped his first career shot - a clean, wraparound tuck - past Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward for a goal.

One game, one shift, one shot, one goal. It took Carr a mere seconds to fulfill a lifelong dream, but if the young winger has learned anything in his professional career, it's to never grow complacent after moments like these.

"The game's about making plays," Carr said after his first day of training camp in Nashville. "But you have to produce to stick around."

Carr went on to appear in 22 more games for the Canadiens during the 2015-16 season, but he only received limited playing time. As a result, Carr was left on the cusp of an NHL roster and has spent more time in the AHL over the past few seasons.

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In the face of adversity, Carr remained resilient. He wouldn't be satisfied until he found his way back into the top League in the world - only this time, for good.

"Nobody wakes up in the morning when they're 6 years old and dreams of playing in the American Hockey League," Carr said.

Sure enough, Carr turned heads throughout his tenure in the AHL. Last season, in 52 regular-season games with the Chicago Wolves, he played his NHL dreams into existence by tallying a whopping 30 goals and 41 assists - numbers good enough to reward him with the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL's MVP. He continued to shine in the playoffs, posting 15 goals and 11 assists while carrying the Wolves to the Calder Cup Finals.

Unsurprisingly, his performance garnered the attention of many NHL teams, including the Nashville Predators. General Manager David Poile decided to give Carr another shot in the form of a one-year, one-way, $700,000 contract. 

However, even with a one-way deal, Carr isn't satisfied. He realizes that a spot on the team is his to either win or lose.

"We're looking for more offense on our team," Poile said. "You'll see in the preseason games [Head Coach Peter Laviolette] structures the roster so that Daniel Carr gets a good opportunity, but he's in a battle for sure. When you count the numbers, we've got 15 forwards on one-way contracts… It's not a sure thing for us or for Daniel, but he's been knocking on the door for a couple years… I don't have the crystal ball of what's going to happen, but I hope it works out for Daniel and for us."

Laviolette echoed Poile's comments. He commended Carr's offensive prowess, but presented this preseason period as an opportunity, rather than a guarantee, for Carr to make the team.

"He's another guy that's going to get a look and an opportunity," Laviolette said. "He could score in the American Hockey League, and offense seems to follow him around. Even talking to some previous teams that he played for, when given the opportunity to play with good players, he was a good player that could contribute."

The preseason is officially underway, and Carr is beginning to feel comfortable around his teammates, but it only took one day of training camp for the Alberta native to understand the hype of playing in Laviolette's system.

"You can kind of tell by just the way guys speak about it. Guys have fun here and come to work every day which makes all the difference," Carr said. "It's only been one day, but the first day has been awesome."

In the second leg of the Predators two-game preseason sweep of the Florida Panthers, Carr was given plenty of time to prove himself. He was on the ice for more than 17 minutes, seven of which came on the power play, and he contributed to the offensive attack with four shots on goal. Conversely, on the defensive side, he recorded a hit and two takeaways to complete a well-rounded game. The performance may not have had the same glitz and glamour as his NHL debut, but Carr knows his role is about maintaining consistency.

"It's one of those things where you need to show up every day ready to play," Carr said. "Whatever they want from you, whether that's producing or being reliable. I think for me, it's about being consistent and being ready to play every day. I think that's the big thing."

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