BOSTON – There’s been so much focus on Jordan Caron’s ability to play a third-line energy role with last winter’s Canadian World Junior team – and potentially with this season’s Bruins squad – that it’s easy to forget he’s a guy who produced 53 points in 43 games last season in the QMJHL.
Well, the 2009 25th overall draft pick sent everyone in TD Garden a reminder that there’s a lot of skill still in his 6-foot-3, 204-pound frame that might make him an even more dynamic threat to challenge for an NHL job this fall with a hat trick in Boston’s 5-2 rookie game win over the New York Islanders.
“For sure, I think everybody wishes it would happen to them,” Caron said scoring his first hat trick since Jan. 6, 2009 with Rimouski. “It’s a dream come true and even though it’s just a rookie game, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Caron, who averaged better than a point per game over the last two seasons, started the scoring on the night by redirecting a Matt Delahey shot into the back of the net 1:01 into the second period. In the third period he buried a Tyler Seguin seam pass, and then later in the last stanza won a race to the puck and flipped in an empty-netter to spark the rainstorm of hats.
As the team that finished last in goals scored last season, the Bruins were searching for offense all summer. They believe they’ve found the necessary additions with the trade for Nathan Horton and the drafting of Seguin. But if players like Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler don’t hit their strides, or Marco Sturm can’t fully recover from knee surgery, the club will need even more firepower from others.
While one rookie game does not a training camp or first NHL season make, Caron can at least take solace in his making an early statement that he truly could be a difference-maker in whatever role Boston uses him. His ability to protect the puck just might be ahead of the likes of Wheeler and Milan Lucic at similar stages in their careers, and if he can reproduce the nose for the net he showed against the Isles during games against NHL vets, he might be able to win over head coach Claude Julien’s heart.
Caron is ready to do whatever it takes to make the next step.
“I think all my juniors I was more of an offensive player. But I think at the World Juniors, we had so many talented players out there, I think it was just normal for me to go in a third-line role and I was happy to do it for the team,” he said. “I think that’s just something that was new for me when I went there and that was a good experience to play that kind of role. Now I know I can play an offensive role or a more energy role.”
There’s nothing wrong with combining both roles. That not only would earn him an NHL career, but also plenty of NHL cash. When it was pointed out to Caron that first-line play is where the money is, he just smiled and answered the only way a humble rookie can – by just saying ‘we’ll see.’
And we’ll be seeing plenty more of Caron as training camp 2010 unfolds.