Photo Credit: Zachary Peters / Winnipeg ICE
Carson Lambos is coming off of his rookie campaign with the Winnipeg ICE. In 57 games played with the ICE, he registered eight goals and 24 assists. In 2018-2019, he did make five appearances with the ICE (when they were the Kootenay ICE), but was pretty quiet production-wise as he only tallied one point. But, in 2019-2020, he stepped up and proved to be a dominant force on both ends of the ice. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native applies tight pressure in the defensive zone and showcases his crisp tape-to-tape passing along the blue line in the offensive zone.
Over the next year or so, there will be plenty of discussion around Brandt Clarke of the Barrie Colts, Luke Hughes of the USNTDP, Owen Power of the Chicago Steel and Lambos. Many draft analysts and scouts will debate about the placement of these three talented defensemen. All three defensemen could certainly prove to be reliable forces at the NHL level, but each defenseman has their own style of play. In this report, I will focus solely on Lambos, but you can certainly expect a thorough report on Power and Hughes down the road.
DOB – January 14, 2003
Height – 6’1″
Weight – 201 lbs
Handedness – Left
Lambos’ Style Of Play
The offensive zone is where Lambos truly thrives. When Lambos is at the blue line in the offensive zone and has possession of the puck, you can expect strong lateral movements and crisp passing. If we focus on his lateral movements for a brief second, one of the qualities that I am fond of is Lambos’ “happy-feet”. For those who are unaware of what I mean by “happy-feet”, it is Josh Tessler lingo for a defenseman who deploys a rapid stride that allows him to go from side to side at a quick pace. With Lambos’ happy-feet, he can quickly skate along the blue line and find teammates to pass to even in traffic. Lambos can use his speed to dodge traffic, find an open lane, pass the puck or take a shot.
Speaking of Lambos’ shot, he has quite the range. From the blue line, he can consistently get his wrist shot on net. Accuracy is no problem for Lambos. In addition, if Lambos can not strike gold from the blue line, he is still efficient at firing a shot that will bounce off the goaltender and create a rebound goal opportunity for his teammates.
Not only is Lambos dominant when passing or shooting the puck in the offensive zone, he also loves to work the cycle. His game is very much like Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche. Both defensemen will carry the puck up the side boards, find tight gaps and fire shots to the net. Also, with his passing ability, he can cycle up the wall and find a teammate in the slot or complete a cross ice pass when he finds a teammate with open space.
From a transitional perspective, Lambos does not often deliver the puck from zone-to-zone. He can go zone-to-zone with the puck and complete tight turns to weave around his opponents. When he is skating from zone-to-zone, he will use his stick-handling ability to his advantage to maneuver the puck away from danger, but do not expect flashy stick-handling. Lambos’ stick-handling does not compare with Kent Johnson or Vasily Ponomaryov’s stick-handling, but he gets the job done.
However, he does not seem to opt to go zone-to-zone with the puck very often when looking to move the puck up the ice. Instead, more than often, Lambos will complete a stretch pass or outlet pass to complete a zone exit.
In the defensive zone, he deploys tight pressure at the blue line and in his own slot. Lambos’ gap control is quite good as he can be tough to out-skate especially along the boards. The only challenge with his gap control that needs to be addressed is his ability to shut down top-notch stick-handlers.
When Lambos nets possession of the puck in the defensive zone, occasionally he will complete an ill-advised pass and creates turnovers. Over time, his decision-making will naturally improve and I am not concerned about this. All defensemen in junior hockey make ill-advised passing especially in the defensive zone. It is a learning process.
However, this is not a regular occurrence as Lambos is quite effective at completing behind the back drop passes in the defensive zone and uses pivots/his peripherals to find an open teammate to deliver the puck to when he is facing tighter pressure. His ability to complete behind the back drop passes in the defensive zone is also a sign that his memory is strong. In order to be an efficient NHL player, memory is a characteristic that is crucial. If you can remember the placement of each player on the ice, your ability to make sleek passes in traffic is much greater.
Last but not least, let’s address his skating ability. Lambos has a wide stride and good speed, but there are some areas of improvement that would be good to address, but are not critical. As Scott Wheeler of The Athletic mentioned in a February post, at times, Lambos will appear to put a decent amount of pressure on his skate. This happens mainly when Lambos is completing crossovers or utilizing his edges. But, there are plenty of skaters that have heavier feet and get the job done.
Cale Makar, RHD, Colorado Avalanche
stats from eliteprospects.com