02/23/2024

BUF:

2

CBJ:

1

Final

WPG:

3

CHI:

2

Final

MIN:

4

EDM:

2

Final

02/24/2024

STL:

1

DET:

6

Final

MTL:

3

NJD:

4

Final

TBL:

4

NYI:

2

Final

NYR:

2

PHI:

1

Final

WSH:

2

FLA:

3

Final

TOR:

4

COL:

3

Final

VGK:

3

OTT:

4

Final

BOS:

2

VAN:

3

Final

DAL:

2

CAR:

1

Final

CGY:

6

EDM:

3

Final

MIN:

5

SEA:

2

Final

NSH:

4

SJS:

2

Final

ANA:

2

LAK:

3

Final

02/25/2024

TBL:

4

NJD:

1

Final

PHI:

6

PIT:

7

Final

CAR:

2

BUF:

3

Final

NYR:

2

CBJ:

4

Final

DET:

3

CHI:

2

Final

ARI:

3

WPG:

4

Final

NSH:

4

ANA:

2

Final

02/26/2024

OTT:

3

WSH:

6

Final

NYI:

3

DAL:

2

Final

LAK:

2

EDM:

4

Final

BOS:

3

SEA:

4

Final

02/27/2024

WSH:

0

DET:

0

07:00 ET

BUF:

0

FLA:

0

07:00 ET

ARI:

0

MTL:

0

07:00 ET

TBL:

0

PHI:

0

07:00 ET

VGK:

0

TOR:

0

07:00 ET

CAR:

0

MIN:

0

08:00 ET

OTT:

0

NSH:

0

08:00 ET

STL:

0

WPG:

0

08:00 ET

LAK:

0

CGY:

0

09:00 ET

DAL:

0

COL:

0

09:30 ET

PIT:

0

VAN:

0

10:00 ET

NJD:

0

SJS:

0

10:30 ET

02/28/2024

CBJ:

0

NYR:

0

07:00 ET

STL:

0

EDM:

0

08:30 ET

02/29/2024

VGK:

0

BOS:

0

07:00 ET

CAR:

0

CBJ:

0

07:00 ET

NYI:

0

DET:

0

07:00 ET

MTL:

0

FLA:

0

07:00 ET

BUF:

0

TBL:

0

07:00 ET

ARI:

0

TOR:

0

07:00 ET

WPG:

0

DAL:

0

08:00 ET

MIN:

0

NSH:

0

08:00 ET

COL:

0

CHI:

0

09:00 ET

PIT:

0

SEA:

0

10:00 ET

LAK:

0

VAN:

0

10:00 ET

ANA:

0

SJS:

0

10:30 ET

Managing Leo Carlsson’s Workload

Leo Carlsson, the 2023 second-overall pick of the Anaheim Ducks, was scratched for the second time in as many games on Tuesday night when the Ducks traveled to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. Carlsson was neither injured nor benched for performance reasons but has missed the team’s last two games as part of a premeditated plan to manage the young center’s workload early in the 2023-24 season. Carlsson scored a goal in his NHL debut on Thursday against the Dallas Stars after missing the team’s first two games with a lower-body injury. He followed up that performance by logging over 21 minutes of ice time between Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry on Saturday against the Coyotes in Arizona. 

For an 18-year-old, Leo Carlsson has played a lot of hockey over the last year. He logged 44 regular season games and 13 playoff games in the SHL (Sweden’s top professional league) for Orebro HK, 13 games for the Sweden U20 team (seven during the World Junior Championship in Halifax), and 15 games for the Swedish Men’s team (eight during the World Championships in Finland/Latvia). He then traveled to Nashville for the 2023 NHL Draft. After which, he flew to Anaheim for their development camp, went home to Sweden for offseason training, and returned to Anaheim for rookie camp. He traveled to Las Vegas when the Ducks participated in the Rookie Faceoff Tournament before starting training camp and preseason with the full Anaheim Ducks roster. Before the NHL regular season began, Carlsson had played in 72 non-exhibition games (65 against grown men) before traveling back and forth from the US and Sweden several times and settling into a new living environment in a new city/country while adjusting to a new primary language. It’s easy to see how an 82-game schedule over a six-and-a-half-month period can feel daunting for an 18-year-old. 

“I played in this league as a 19-year-old,” Verbeek said. “I kind of know at game 40, 42 somewhere in there, I hit a wall. It took me a while to kind of get through that wall, and I don’t want him to go through that. I want him to be a horse in the second half of the season. So, we’re going to manage his games for the next couple of months anyways.”

Pat Verbeek to Eric Stephens of the Athletic

Early Returns

On June 28th, when Pat Verbeek took the stage to announce who the Anaheim Ducks would be selecting with the second overall pick, many were surprised and skeptical when the name “Leo Carlsson” escaped his mouth. Two games into Carlsson’s NHL career, it’s not hard to see why Verbeek and the Ducks scouting staff were infatuated with the 6-3 194lb center. His hockey IQ stands out as elite amongst the best hockey players in the top hockey league in the world. Whether the puck is on his stick or 120 feet away, he is thinking four or five steps ahead. 

Carlsson has been placed on a line centering the Ducks’ two most potent offensive threats, Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras. He’s thrived in Head Coach Greg Cronin’s man-to-man defensive zone coverage system where he is winning battles low in the zone and supporting the puck astutely on breakouts. In transition, he’s shown he can attack and contribute in any way necessary and in any situation whether it’s opening up lanes for teammates or filling those lanes himself. In the offensive zone, he’s a wizard. He is finding ways to get pucks to dangerous areas at will while keeping plays alive with his protection and anticipation abilities. On the forecheck is where his intellect might be on display the most. He’s able to dissect a breakout as an F1, F2, or F3 forechecker like he’s been in the league for 15 years. He’s been the cause of numerous turnovers high in the offensive zone and neutral zone already and they’ve led to high-percentage scoring chances. It’s been impressive to watch him compute and process the game to this point. 

The Plan

In previous pieces, I stated that Leo Carlsson was the most important draft pick in the history of the Anaheim Ducks, and his development path should be carefully calculated and meticulously monitored. The 2023 NHL Draft was one of the most highly touted drafts in recent memory and the Ducks had their pick of several exceptional talents when they landed the right to select second overall. This draft was also coming at a time in the Ducks’ rebuild where they were looking to turn the corner and begin the climb into relevancy after half a decade of dwelling in the basement of the NHL standings. Ensuring that this player is playing in the proper league and put in positions to grow and succeed from the jump would be crucial to his development and realization of his entire potential, which is magnificent. 

With Pierre LeBrun’s report, we now know the route General Manager Pat Verbeek, Leo Carlsson, and Leo Carlsson’s agent, Matt Keator, have elected to take early on in Leo Carlsson’s rookie campaign. For the first couple months of the 2023-24 season, Carlsson will play two games per week to ensure he doesn’t burn out around the midway point of his first NHL season. After the first two months, the group will reevaluate and map out how to proceed going forward. Speculation suggests Carlsson (if healthy) will play around 60 games for the Anaheim Ducks in his rookie season. 

The Fan Perspective

Anaheim Ducks fans have had very few things to cheer for over the last five seasons. They’ve finished in the bottom ten of the league standings in each of those years. This run was capped by a 2022-23 season that was the worst in franchise history and one of the worst we’ve seen from any NHL team in a long time where they managed just 58 points and set a salary cap era record for most goals allowed in a season with 338.

Leo Carlsson was a healthy scratch for the first time on Sunday when the Ducks hosted the Boston Bruins at Honda Center and were defeated by a score of 3-1. This was the fan’s second opportunity to see their prize for enduring the 2022-23 season on home ice. If they felt perturbed to discover he wouldn’t be in that game’s lineup, it was understandable (specifically those who bought tickets). Especially so, because there was minimal communication to that point on what this process was going to look like. There was more transparency before Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win in Columbus against the Blue Jackets as reports surfaced that morning of Carlsson’s impending scratch. Now that a clearer outline has been reported and presented, expectations for Carlsson’s rookie season and how often he’ll suit up can be shifted. 

Conclusion

A workload management program like this is a somewhat unique and intriguing approach to a young player’s first season in the NHL. In the two games he’s played, he has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time in each and has been on the team’s top line and powerplay unit. He is given every opportunity to succeed in the games he plays. The most encouraging aspect of this is the collaboration and signing off between the front office, coaching staff, agent, and player to come up with this forward-thinking regimen. It will be worth monitoring just how positively this affects Carlsson’s freshness as the season moves along and how his game progresses in that time. There seems to be a very bright future in Anaheim, and at its center is Leo Carlsson. 

Episode 76: Up Early Like A Big Boy Late Arrivals: An Anaheim Ducks Podcast

On this episode of LAP, the guys try to get the sour taste of last week's games out of their mouths and focus on some of the few bright spots. They talk about their favorite YouTube coach and try to understand the mental gymnastics of thinking players fake serious injuries. Some coverage of the Leafs dominant play of recent is had and as always, the episode is capped off with listener questions!Follow Late Arrivals Twitter: @latearrivalspodInstagram: @latearrivalspodFollow the hostsChris: @CJKChelConnor: @91_PlutyJake: @_JRobles71Louis: @Louiex37 Intro/ Outro done by Will Rice/ @pastorwillrice
  1. Episode 76: Up Early Like A Big Boy
  2. Episode 75: Grit, Determination, and Gobstoppers
  3. Episode 74: The DuBlah Navigation System
  4. Episode 73: Time For Change
  5. Episode 72: Jar Of Ducks

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