This year’s defensive group didn’t need to get blown up mid-season like the 2015-16 season had to. The lone real alteration came in the very first month of the season when the Milwaukee Admirals made the always rare AHL trade that saw them acquire Adam Pardy from the Springfield Falcons in exchange for Eric Robinson, Teddy Doherty, and Brandon Whitney. This happened because Matt Irwin was quickly promoted from the Admirals to the Nashville Predators and remained in the NHL from that point forward.
What I saw from a very young Admirals defensive group was an awful lot of learning and improvement by season’s end. Given moments of injury that sidelined a veteran like Pardy for a great length of time and then Jimmy Oligny at the end of the regular season for the rest of the playoffs – the young guns did well under the pressure. The Jack Dougherty who started the season was not the same one working in the playoffs. All defensemen really did grow and improve.
When it all boils down though there wasn’t much of a contest here. From a consistency standpoint. Defense. Offense. Special Teams. This 20-year old from Québec did so well so often that it never felt like it was actually his first pro season – but it was. Admirals Roundtable’s 2016-17 Defenseman of the Year Award belongs to Alex Carrier.
Carrier proved time and time again that he could shoulder a weight of responsibilities for the Admirals in his debut season of professional hockey. He played with maturity, poise, and a swagger that put him to the NHL where he made his debut in mid-January. Not long after making his NHL debut he represented the Admirals at the AHL All-Star Classic and helped the Central Division All-Stars win the AHL All-Star Challenge for a second consecutive season.
The area that I usually look at directly when giving this specific award is to make sure that the defenseman who wins it simply isn’t just the most dynamic offensive defenseman on the season. You can say as much for Carrier who used his great skating ability and instincts in the defensive end of the rink to be disruptive and effective as part of the Admirals go-to defensive paring alongside Pardy. Those two hit it off immidiately and the benefits of Carrier being paired with a veteran and getting to practice, play, and learn from him daily certainly helped his confidence soar.
Carrier was NHL good as a 20-year old first-year pro. I cannot wait to see how the sophomore campaign for him goes. The questions for him have been answered but now everyone knows who he is and what he’s all about. This time next season we could well be back discussing just how well Carrier embraced the adversity and succeeded. He did it this season. And he didn’t show signs that he couldn’t next season.
Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.