When news first broke that the Buffalo Sabres, after more than a year of speculation, finally traded former Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Ryan Miller to St. Louis, Buffalo fans were eager to learn who the team acquired in return.
The deal, which included then team captain Steve Ott, netted Buffalo first- (2015) and third-round (2016) picks, goalie Jaroslav Halak, who was traded within a few days, forward Chris Stewart, who many expect to be dealt at the 2015 deadline, and prospect William Carrier.
At the time, Sabres fans knew very little of Carrier and likely don’t know much more now. The winger hasn’t logged any AHL or NHL time and he plays in junior hockey.
Fans will have their first chance to watch him play this week at Sabres Development Camp, which started on Monday and runs through Friday.
Carrier knows he wasn’t a part of some ordinary trade, but feels no pressure to perform right away.
“It’s fun to be part of a big trade like that,” Carrier said. “There’s no pressure on me that I’ve felt from the organization. They’ve let me develop and we’ll see how it goes in camp.”
Carrier, who pronounces him name “Carry-A”, considers himself a traditional power forward – someone who can hit, score and play on all four lines. He’s well aware of General Manager Tim Murray and Coach Ted Nolan’s desire for players that fit that mold.
“(I’m) a power forward. I can check, score goals, play anywhere,” Carrier said. “A lot of teams in the NHL are looking for big power forwards now and it’s my style of play.”
Carrier, 6-feet-1, 196 pounds, is still relatively young; he’ll be 19 when the 2014-15 season begins. However, there are whispers that 2013’s 57th overall pick may be a dark horse to make the team out of training camp.
He’s using Development Camp as a way to make a good first impression on his new employers so that he’ll be in good standing heading into training camp.
“I’m going to train hard this summer,” Carrier said. “Hopefully, I can get a good training camp and be ready for September. Hopefully this year or next year I make the team.”
One concern the Sabres may have with Carrier going forward is his injury history. The Quebec native missed the second half of the 2012-2013 season (his draft year) for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with an ankle injury. He re-injured the ankle at the end of last season, costing him a chance to join Rochester for the American Hockey League playoffs.
While he hasn’t had any major injuries or surgeries, the initial ailment was enough to knock the 18th-ranked North American skater to the bottom of the second round in 2013.
Carrier doesn’t harbor any ill will toward those who were scared off by his injury and feels healthy and ready to work.
“I dropped a bit with the injury,” he said. “I got drafted later but I was really happy to get drafted in the second round with the injury and I was fine two weeks after the draft, so that was fun.
“I’m going to train hard this summer. I had an injury at the end of the season but it’s all OK now.”