Ryan Carpenter is used to putting others first, both off the ice and on it.
Off the ice, Carpenter earned the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award this season, given annually to the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. Carpenter helped lead a handful of community initiatives in San Jose, including the Barracuda holiday toy drive, and made numerous hospital visits.
He also forged a friendship with 12-year-old Marlon Stewart, the Barracuda’s “first fan” who suffers from Saethre-Chotzen Syndrome, a very rare genetic disease that affects cranial structure. Carpenter brought Stewart to the Barracuda locker room prior to one of his surgeries, visited him at home while he was recovering, and recently invited him to watch practice from the bench.
Carpenter, who has a finance degree from Bowling Green, also taught several classes as part of the Barracuda Math Class program, which has reached 2,500 students in local schools to combine math skills with learning about hockey.
“He just really gets it, what a great young man,” San Jose Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said. “Great family and upbringing, always thinking about others. You really couldn’t ask for a better guy in the locker room.”
On the ice, Carpenter had just as much of an impact with his playmaking ability.
The 25-year-old undrafted free agent had 55 points (18 goals, 37 assists) in 66 games with the Barracuda during the 2015-16 campaign. He was named an AHL All-Star, played in his first NHL game, and was named the Barracuda’s Team MVP at the end of the season.
“It’s been a fun year,” Carpenter said earlier in the season. “I’ve been able to experience a lot. I feel like I’ve been able to really appreciate this season and been enjoying putting in the work.”
The work ethic is what caught Sommer’s attention over the past couple seasons.
Last season with the Worcester Sharks, the Florida native had 34 points in 74 games. That was good for his rookie season, but it couldn’t have predicted his outbreak in 2015-16.
“He’s a product of the AHL and a success story for this league,” Sommer said. “He’s always out there working on his shot, and it’s gotten so much better. He can really pick his spots and pick the corners, he couldn’t do that when he first came in.”
For Carpenter, the next step is working his way up the Sharks depth chart. The 6-foot, 195-pound winger is positionally smart and could be a reliable third- or fourth-line winger in the NHL.
“He’s a guy you want to root for,” Sommer said. “He’s done everything right and worked so hard. He’s a leader and he’s an influence on our team, and you just want to see guys like that get an opportunity (in the NHL).”
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