Michael Caruso
Image: OHL

Michael Caruso


Mississauga Ontario

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Eligible for draft:









4th round (103rd overall), 2006


191 lbs.

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2004-05: Michael Caruso had a non-descript rookie season with the Guelph Storm in the OHL, playing in 56 games with 3 assists, 31 PIM and a -9 PIM. He appeared in four playoff games and with an even plus/minus and 2 PIM.

2005-06: Caruso established himself as a defensive presence while playing a more active role in the offensive transition game in his second season with the Storm. Caruso scored 1 goal with 15 assists and 85 PIM in 66 games and had the third best plus/minus on the Storm (+21). Caruso played well in the playoffs as the Storm advanced to the Western Conference finals, scoring 1 goal with 2 assists and finishing +10 with 24 PIM in 15 games.

2006-07: After attending his first Panthers' camp, Caruso returned to Guelph for his third season. In 64 games with the Storm he scored 4 goals (two on the power play) with 16 assists and was +21. Caruso led the Storm with 119 PIM. Caruso was scoreless in four playoff games and was -3 with 8 PIM as the Storm were swept by Plymouth in the first round.

2007-08: Michael Caruso’s season began a month late as the result of an injury which kept him out of the Panthers' rookie camp. Once he returned to the Guelph lineup, Caruso had his best season to date, scoring 10 goals with 24 assists and was +21 with 103 PIM. He was a leader on and off the ice for the Storm, who finished third in the Midwest division. In 10 playoff games, he scored 2 goals with 6 assists and was +6 with 22 PIM as the Storm advanced to the second round.

2008-09: Caruso was one of three rookie defensemen for Rochester (AHL). While not as impressive offensively as Keaton Ellerby or Jason Garrison, Caruso was a solid presence on the Amerks blue line and played a sound, conservative defensive game. In 73 games, he scored one goal with 9 assists and 66 PIM and was -10 for a Rochester team that finished in last place in its division.

2009-10: Caruso was once again assigned to Rochester by the Panthers. On a much-improved Amerks squad that finished second in its division and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, Caruso was a steady, reliable defender who took care of his own end and supported the play well. As in 2008-09, his offensive production was below what it was in juniors as he scored 1 goal with 10 assists in 67 games and was +4 with 42 PIM.

2010-11: Caruso provided sound, steady defensive play for Rochester in his third season with the Amerks. Caruso played 75 of 80 games for Rochester and scored 5 goals with 4 assists and was -3 plus/minus with 77 PMs. Caruso signed a one-year, two-way contract with Florida in July 2011.

2011-12: Caruso filled the role of veteran, stay-at-home defender in his fourth AHL season with Florida AHL affiliate San Antonio. In 68 regular season games with the Rampage he was plus-four with 5 goals and 8 assists. His 63 penalty minutes were third most on the club behind AHL heavyweights Eric Selleck (204) and Nolan Yonkman (102).  San Antonio finished third in the West Division and reached the second round in the playoffs. Overshadowed by the emergence of 19-year-old Alex Petrovic, Caruso skated in all 10 playoff games and was plus-three with 4 assists and 4 penalty minutes. He was re-signed to a one-year contract by the Panthers in July, 2012.


Talent Analysis

Caruso is big, works hard on every shift and has the mentality of a NHL blueliner. Caruso has excellent skating ability and always looks to make the safest possible play. He prefers to keep the game simple by making a safe pass on the transition or putting the puck on goal for a rebound or deflection. He has added a physical component to his game since his early days in juniors and also utilizes sound positional play to control opponents. He has leadership qualities on and off the ice.



Caruso signed his qualifying offer with the Panthers this off-season and will return to the San Antonio Rampage. At this point in his career, Caruso projects as a bottom-pair defenseman, but will have to work extremely hard to make his way through the Panthers depth at defense.