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2021 NHL Draft: Carson Lambos is another defenseman in this draft

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What a name.

Winnipeg Ice v Everett Silvertips Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images

CARSON LAMBOS.

I cannot get over this teenaged defenseman’s name. It sticks in my brain like a parasite in your favorite science-fiction movie, creeping and crawling around ever since I came across his name in an early mock draft last year.

The lefty for the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice was slated to go as early as a top-10 pick, but with the league opening back up and more names riding the super hype wave early in this draft, his has slipped down the list in a more realistic place for the sizeable defender.

Lambos is just one of those guys that plays a steady game, not joining the rush often as an attacker from the back, but would rather make the more dependable outlet pass or play from the point.

He possesses enough offensive awareness to be useful in his junior leagues, but once the speed is ramped up in the professional level, we’ll have to see if he can make that transition. As always, prospects grow and evolve, and Lambos will be one to keep an eye out for either a team that wants to make a “safe” pick in the mid-to-late first or for a team to instead take a shifty winger that might be available instead.

Pre-Draft Rankings

#11 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

#30 by Elite Prospects

#17 by Corey Pronman/The Athletic

#28 by Dobber Prospects

#22 by FCHockey

What Scouts Are Saying

Lambos had a tough season between a mediocre performance in Finland and medical issues ending his WHL season early. He remains a top prospect due to his tools and underage profile but with more questions than a year ago. Lambos has good speed and excellent edges, and is able to pivot quickly and escape pressure at a high level while staying with fast forwards defensively. Lambos is hard to play against and regularly punishes opponents physically. Offensively he’s not flashy but has some strong elements with the puck. He makes a good first pass, and shows good flashes of offensive-zone vision and puckhandling. In a sentence, Lambos projects as a “hard to play against” second-pair defenseman who may not be a great power-play guy in the NHL but he could be on the second unit.

-Corey Pronman, The Athletic

It’s tough to evaluate how Lambos is trending because he played one of the smaller sample sizes among the better prospects in this draft due to the WHL’s delays and an injury, which eventually pulled him out of the league’s Regina hub. I liked what I saw of him at Finland’s junior level, where he was dominant, but he only played a total of 14:22 in Liiga, so there’s not a lot to unravel there. Lambos was stellar for the Ice a year ago and there’s a lot to like (and very little to dislike) about his game. He’s athletic, he’s confident on the attack, he puts himself in a lot of transition sequences, he’s sturdy in engagements, his point shot pops, and he’s a heady playmaker who is capable of beating the first layer of pressure to make something happen. He doesn’t have any one dynamic quality that mirrors the defencemen ranked in front of him but it’s not hard to imagine him becoming a relied-upon all-situations defender. The risk, obviously, is that this year slows his trajectory.

-Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Once thought to be a challenger in the top-10, Lambos really struggled at times during his stint in Finland. He is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. His skating is good and he is able to walk a blueline quite well. Lambos has a big shot from the blue line which is a legitimate weapon on the powerplay, especially when he moves into the circles with it. His defensive game is solid, defending transition with his stick and angling off well. He can be a bit over-aggressive in the neutral zone at times but the mindset is there to stuff plays before they start. He has the tools to be a top-15 talent in this draft but he will need to show up with Winnipeg now that the WHL is getting going because his play in the U20 SM-sarja left a lot to be desired.

-Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects

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.

-Smaht Scouting

Would He Fit In With The Wild?

Most certainly. Lambos’s two-way game has Minnesota Hockey written all over him. Whether he is seen as a left-handed Dumba or will opt more for the Ryan Suter comparison, he would seamlessly fit in on the Wild’s blue line if he stays on the same path of progression he is currently on.

A very “good at most, master of none” type of player is basically what every Minnesota player outside a handful, currently are. Just depth upon depth, rolling lines and always coming with force into the offensive zone. It would be an interesting pick, since the Wild actually could feasibly get him.

Could The Wild Get Him?

Yes. That’s the short answer, but the long answer is more determining if the Wild should select him at either 21st or 25th overall. Earlier this year he was projected to go as high as top-8 and was seen on the same level of a Brandt Clarke, as he went over to Europe to play in Finland. Keeping his game steady and impressing more as he went to the minor professional level kept his name in heads of scouts.

The Wild are extremely short when it comes to prospects on the blue line and Lambos can join a crew of Calen Addison and Ryan O’Rourke, to battle out the top title as their best future option. To bolster that cupboard positionally can certainly be beneficial, but with the amount of potential forward talent available at that spot, it would be hard to pass up a higher-impact player. You can’t be mad with a Lambos pick though.

A Minnesota Relation

I’ve already made this comparison in an earlier draft profile, but Lambos just screams Ryan Suter. An early-career minute-muncher that left coaches drooling, Suter was able to bring his talents to the powerplay, penalty kill; just being an all-situations defenseman that can lead their team in the top-four group.

It’s an easy comparison but also the one that makes the most sense.

2021 NHL Draft Board

  1. Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  2. Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  3. Brandt Clarke — D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovenia)
  4. Luke Hughes — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  5. Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
  6. Simon Edvinsson — D, Frolunda (SHL)
  7. William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  8. Kent Johnson — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  9. Mason McTavish — C/W, Peterborough Petes/EHC Olten (OHL/Swiss)