With news breaking that Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis will be out 4-6 months after undergoing surgery on his knee, a spot in the Nashville defense corps has suddenly become available.
Roman Josi, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm are locks for three of the six spots, and now Alex Carrier’s name has been thrown into the ring to secure one of the other three open spots.
“You can go right down the ladder, it’s an opportunity for a lot of the guys and Alex Carrier is one of them,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said during Thursday’s rookie camp. “He’s one of the guys who came up, was here in the playoffs and found his way onto our team during the regular season.”
Carrier’s competition? Alexei Emelin, Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin and Tony Bitetto – all of whom played in the NHL last season.
“Tony Bitetto, he’s come back in camp and looking to make some noise and take a spot,” Laviolette continued. “Irwin and Weber are looking to solidify, or possibly get some more minutes, due to the Ellis injury. Girard has come back, Dougherty…all these guys we’ve been waiting to see at camp.”
Emelin, Weber, Irwin and Bitetto combined for just 39 points last season, with none scoring more than three goals. In 72 games in Milwaukee, Carrier had 39 points himself, leading all Admirals’ defensemen in scoring– including six goals. Oh, and he was also an AHL All-Star.
“He’s been a really steady name that’s been mentioned in the minors, and although we didn’t need to go to him because our backend was relatively healthy, he’s a guy everybody kept saying is ready,” Laviolette added. “So, he’s going to get looks and opportunities in a lot of games to show what he can do, but still, the opportunity presents itself for others as well.”
“Nashville has a lot of good defensemen and maybe I could use some more time in the AHL,” Carrier said. “But if an opening happens to be here, for sure I’ll be ready. I compete hard every day — even during the summer — to get ready for it. It’s my dream to be here full-time, so I’ll be ready for it when it happens.
Catch Alex Carrier and other Predators rookies during rookie camp scrimmages against Tampa Bay on Saturday the 9th at 2pm, Sunday the 10th at 12pm and Tuesday the 12th at 11am. All games will be at Ford Ice Center.