Carson Lambos was busy with his high school metalworking class on Thursday morning, but his future was being shaped miles away in Red Deer, Alberta.
At the 2018 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, Lambos’ name was called early as the Kootenay Ice made him the second overall pick and the newest addition to their team. While the 15-year-old defenceman from Winnipeg was projected to be the top blueliner available, his selection was nevertheless a thrilling moment.
“It [was] such an awesome day, [especially] to see my name come up [and be picked] by such a great organization,” Lambos told the Townsman over the phone that afternoon. “I’m looking forward to playing with Kootenay and I’m super excited for what the future [will] bring.”
Standing at just over six feet tall and weighing nearly 200 pounds, Lambos already has the frame of a major junior hockey player despite still being a year away from playing regularly. This fall, he expects to attend training camp and then will be eligible to play five games for Kootenay.
While he has never been to Cranbrook before, Lambos says that he knows that the Ice are a team on the rise with a great fan base. Although Kootenay missed the playoffs this past season, they improved by 21 points from the year prior and have two very promising forwards in Peyton Krebs (1st overall in 2016) and Connor McClennon (2nd overall in 2017).
“They have a lot of good young prospects and they’re a team that’s looking to really become a contender over the next few years,” Lambos said. “[Krebs and McClennon] are obviously two really good players [and] hopefully I can come and contribute to the team in some way.”
Congrats Carson #ice— Connor Mcclennon (@mcclennon_94) May 3, 2018
Describing his own game, Lambos says that he strives to be a force on both ends of the ice and is significantly inspired by the play of Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty.
“I’m a 200 foot defenceman [and] someone who takes pride in [his] game and works hard and aggressively in the defensive zone,” Lambos said. “I also like to join up on the offence and try to contribute and make plays that lead to goals.
“I like that [Doughty] plays with intensity and that’s something that I try to do with my game. I try not to let the emotions get the best of me, but that intensity is certainly something that benefits me.”
Playing last season for Rink Academy Bantam Prep of the CSSBHL, Lambos had 40 points in 30 games and was honoured as the league’s top defenceman. In the playoffs, he had 11 points in five games and also had 10 points in six games at the prestigious John Reid Bantam Memorial tournament.
According to Jake Heisinger, the Ice’s Director of Scouting and Hockey Operations, Lambos is the complete package.
“He really does it all — skates, plays hard [and] he’s not afraid to jump in offensively,” Heisinger said. “He’s a really good teammate and wants to be a difference maker. He plays such a complete game.”
Lambos’ older brother Jonathon, also a defenceman, was a third round pick of the Victoria Royals in 2016 and is currently a prospect of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
In addition to closely watching his hometown Winnipeg Jets continue their push for a Stanley Cup, Lambos plans to spend his summer preparing to be in the best shape he can for his first WHL training camp.
“I’ll be in the gym and working hard so that I can be in a spot where I’m ready for training camp,” he said.
Kootenay Ice training camp is expected to begin in late August with the 2018-19 season kicking off in September. Lambos was one of nine players that were drafted by the organization on Thursday, a group that included five forwards, three defencemen and a goalie.
The top pick in the 2018 Draft went to the Edmonton Oil Kings who used the pick to select centreman Dylan Guenther of NAX Academy. Defenceman Nolan Allan, the younger brother of Ice prospect Blake Allen, was selected third overall by the Prince Albert Raiders.