Canes coach Bill Peters was posed the question often last year by visiting media: how are rookie defensemen Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce playing?
Peters’ answer at times included, “And don’t forget we have some good, young defenseman in Charlotte like Trevor Carrick and …”
Carrick, 22, finally got his first taste of the NHL in mid-March, being called up to play road games against the Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild. That was a nice start but he’d like more.
Carrick put on weight over the summer and says he’s 205 pounds. He returned to Raleigh early and was one of the first players at the informal skates. He’s ready for training camp.
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It would easy for Carrick, a fourth-round draft pick by Carolina in 2012, to be frustrated. He looks at the Canes’ D corps and sees Justin Faulk, Ron Hainsey and then Hanifin, Slavin and Pesce. Ryan Murphy signed a new two-year NHL contract in July.
Haydn Fleury, the Canes’ first-round pick in 2014, has made a lot of strides the past two years. Jake Bean was a first-round pick this year. There are also Roland McKeown, Keegan Lowe, Dennis Robertson, Matt Tennyson and others. It’s a crowded position.
“It’s not that you get frustrated,” Carrick said Friday. “It’s just more competition. That’s one way to look at it. You can sit here and get frustrated or you can let it motivate you and make you look forward to the challenge. So I think that’s the way I’m going to look at it, as looking forward to the challenge. Watch the older guys and try do the best I can. Don’t worry about the other guys, just myself.”
Carrick said he gained another level of confidence in his two NHL games, when he was needed when Hainsey was out with an illness.
“It was great,” Carrick said, smiling. “The first game I showed up a little late, so the nerves were going.”
Because of a travel delay, Carrick didn’t make it to the Verizon Center until midway through pregame warmups. His parents were already there for his NHL debut, wondering where he might be.
“I got there and didn’t have to sit in my stall and think about it. Just hopped right to it,” Carrick said.
Paired with Michal Jordan, Carrick had 16:34 of ice time as the Canes lost 2-1 in overtime. After the game Peters said Carrick “showed good composure.”
Four days later, Carrick played 16:45 in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Wild. He was on the ice, with Hanifin, when the Wild scored late in the second period for a 1-0 lead but was otherwise pretty solid, with three takeaways and a blocked shot.
“Just to show I can play with them gives me some confidence,” Carrick said. “Hopefully there’s more to come, but we’ll see. It will give me a different mindset coming into camp this year.”
Carrick, from Stouffville, Ont., played 70 games for the Checkers, finishing with nine goals and 33 assists while being selected for the AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse, N.Y.. He also helped Team Canada win the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland.
Carrick said when he’s playing at his best, he’s “moving the puck well and jumping into the play and getting point shots through.” He said there’s nothing he’s “fantastic at” but believes he has a well-rounded game,
A season-long problem last year, Carrick said, was keeping on weight. He said he lost about 15 pounds, down to 180, through the grind of the AHL season, noting, “I got skinny.”
Carrick said he built his weight back up during the summer, to 205 pounds.
“My goal this year is to try and maintain that,” Carrick said. “I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m feeling really good, feeling big and strong.”
The Canes players are scheduled to go through physical testing Thursday and begin preseason camp on the ice Friday.
“It’s going to be a competitive camp but I’m very excited for it,” Carrick said. “I have to bring my best and hopefully I can.”