Like most Quebeckers, Mathieu Carle grew up watching and cheering for the Montreal Canadiens. Unlike most, however, Carle is a part of the historic organization. The Habs used their second round, 53rd overall draft choice to select the 6’0, 206 lbs defenseman. Carle has spent the last three seasons playing for the Acadie-Bathurst Titans of the QMJHL. Carle and the Titans both seemed to take a significant step forward in development this season, as they made the playoffs for the first time since he joined the team. Carle put up career high numbers in goals (18), assists (51), points (69) and penalty minutes (122).
Unlike many of the very talented and offensive defenders to come out of the QMJHL, size is not an issue for Carle, who is built like an NHLer as an 18-year-old. He possesses solid skating and very strong puckhandling skills that enable him to carry the puck out of his own zone a great deal. Carle’s defensive play suffered at times during the season as he focused too much on contributing to the attack, but he has shown a sporadic willingness to play tough in his own zone and sacrifice his body by blocking shots.
Carle’s fourth QMJHL season will be a critical one for him, as he will have to show a commitment to taking care of his own end and improving his discipline while maintaining his offensive contribution to the Titans. Carle has tremendous talent, but needs to round out his overall game. He has the potential to become a top-four defender at the NHL level if he can focus on improving and maturing as a player.
Carle spoke with Hockey’s Future shortly after being selected at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
HF: Could you please describe your style of play for those who haven’t seen you play in junior?
MC: I’m an offensive type; I like to pass the puck. I have a good first pass, and I like to see the play. I know how to find guys. I like to control the power play. I’m not dominant in the defensive zone, but I’m not a high-risk d-man. I can take care of myself defensively.
HF: What do you feel you need to improve in order to make the NHL?
MC: Skating. The first few steps I have to work on that. Upper body shape, to get bigger, to get more physical against bigger, older guys.
HF: How do you feel that your season went in the QMJHL?
MC: It was my third year, and our first year winning. It was more enjoyable than the last two years. Now it’s been three years, like I just said. I like the city a lot, so it doesn’t bother me to play another year there.
HF: Do you think that enduring two losing seasons has made you a mentally stronger player?
MC: Yeah, but when you go through a year that you lose, and a year that you win, you learn that winning is so much more fun than losing. Whenever we lose one game or two in a row guys get [angry] a lot. So it’s not something we want, because we know how winning is like, so losing gets you frustrated a lot.
HF: What do you plan to do for the rest of the summer in terms of training?
MC: Maybe try to do my best the camp, and we’ll see how long I stay. And if I go back to Bathurst, which probably will happen, I’ll try to have the best season of my career thus far and try to dominate, a lot more this year, the Q.
HF: Are there any other Acadie-Bathurst players that you think may be drafted today?
MC: There’s (Mathieu) Perreault (WSH), who was playing with me. He had a really good second half of the season. So I guess maybe a team will take a good chance on him.
HF: In the best-case scenario, how long do you think it will be until you’re able to break into the NHL and stick with the Canadiens?
MC: I’d like next year, but maybe two, three years. I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the AHL. I want to really play there and show what I can do for the Montreal Canadiens.
HF: Obviously being chosen at the NHL Draft is special, but is it particularly special for you because it was the Canadiens that selected you?
MC: Yeah, it’s a dream come true. I’ve been growing up watching them a lot. Like I said, it’s a dream come true.
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