Kootenay’s top prospect put ink to paper last week, as defenceman Carson Lambos signed a standard WHL contract to take another step on his journey towards major-junior hockey.
The club held a small ceremony in the Ice dressing room at Western Financial Place, where Lambos committed his future to the team, while separate signings of second round picks Karter Prosofsky and Skyler Bruce were also announced by general manager Matt Cockell.
“I’m super happy and excited right now to put pen to the paper and make it official and have this be my future, so I’m just super happy to have a future in Kootenay,” said Lambos, who was taken second overall in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
Lambos was at the top of Kootenay’s draft rankings, but the club was able to snag him at second overall when the Edmonton Oil Kings selected high scoring forward Dylan Guenther first overall.
“Defence is a real tough position to find elite talent and Carson really does everything that you look for in an elite defenceman; he moves the puck, he plays fast, he thinks the game well and we’re excited to add him to our group,” said Cockell.
“…Karter Prosofsky brings a bit of an edge, he’s a right shot, so that’s maybe a good mix moving forward when you look at Carson being a left and Karter a right-shot, in terms of how we’re building our team. And Skyler’s just a real smart, intelligent player, puts the puck in the net and we’re excited to pick all three of these players.”
The way to the Key City
Lambos, joined by parents Steve and Simone, flew into Cranbrook, as the young prospect got the opportunity to tour Western Financial Place and hit the local links with Cockell.
The 15-year-old defenceman joins a cast of former top bantam prospects that include Peyton Krebs, who was drafted first overall in 2016, and Connor McLennon, who went second overall last year.
“It’s definitely good to see a lot of good young players in the organization and in the prospect system,” said Lambos, “so it definitely goes to show they know what they’re doing and they have really big plans.”
Lambos, a six-foot, 196-pound defencemen, has spent the last two years at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg, playing in the Canadian Sport School Bantam Hockey League.
His first year, he turned heads as an underage player potting 15 goals and 23 assists for 38 points in 30 games. This past season, he tallied the same number of goals and two additional assists for 40 points in the same number of games.
Lambos will attend training camp and could see some exhibition games or an extended stay, depending on how the situation works for him and Kootenay’s hockey operations department.
“I think the number one driver of all our decisions is development,” said Cockell, “and ensuring that we’re working closely with the player, with the parents, especially when they’re at this stage of their development, making sure we’re providing not only the right opportunity, but also the right time for them to ease their way in.”
Due to WHL age restrictions, Lambos will be spend another year with the academy next year before pushing for full-time duty in 2019.
Growing up in Winnipeg
Lambos first got on skates at three years old and started playing on teams a year later. In fact, he was playing against kids two years older than him before long, according to his dad, Steve.
Growing up, Carson would hone his hockey skills on outdoor rinks, playing pickup hockey with his friends, while also picking up other sports such as football, baseball and basketball.
“I think these days, everything’s so structured that kids miss all that fun stuff,” said Steve, “and I think it’s important to include that in a kid’s development and also I think it’s important for kids to play other sports, not just play hockey and do it 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Steve points to qualities such as work ethic, compete level and drive, noting his son told him the day after the draft — ’now the real work begins.’
The RHA program has provided an environment where Carson has been able to work on all aspects of his game in all three zones, said Steve.
“I think he’s an offensive defenceman and I think his game’s matured over the last year or two being at the rink hockey academy…knowing when to be offensive and knowing when to be defensive,” Steve said, “so I think that’s a part of the maturation process for Carson as a player.
“I think the Rink Academy has done a great job and hopefully continuing forward, that development continues here with Kootenay. I’m sure with having [Ice head coach James] Patrick as a coach and having his experiences as a defenceman, that’s why we’re excited to have Carson a part of Kootenay right now.”
ICE CHIPS: After the signing ceremony, Cockell said the Ice are looking to select a player in the upcoming CHL Import Draft. Kootenay Ice alumni Brayden McNabb and Cody Eakin, along with former bench boss Ryan McGill, are vying for the Stanley Cup with the Las Vegas Golden Knights against the Washington Capitals.