April 03, 2016

Michael Caruso

Michael Caruso played two games with the Florida Panthers in the 2012-13 season.

The Panthers drafted Caruso with the 103rd overall draft pick of the 2006 NHL draft. He had established himself as a solid defensive presence with the OHL's Guelph Storm. Caruso would play
four full junior seasons with Guelph, scoring 15 goals and 73 points in 248 career OHL games.

The Panthers turned professional in 2008 and was one of three rookie defensemen with the AHL Rochester Americans. Having so much experience can be a dicey proposition for any team. While Jason Garrison and Keaton Ellerby got more headlines due to their more offensive game, Caruso quietly settled into his conservative, stay-at-home role.

It was a role he would never really grow from, and as a result he was essentially labeled as a depth defenseman at the AHL level. He continued to emerge as a more assertive presence defensively as he gained more confidence and experience, but at the same time was falling down the Panthers prospect rankings chart. There was seemingly always someone new coming along who had more upside.

Caruso always looked to make the safest play. There was no flash and dash in his game, though he was pretty nimble on his skates.

The Panthers stuck with Caruso through 2014, rewarding him with his two game call up with games against Carolina and Montreal in January of 2013. His last two seasons with the organization saw him battle an assortment of injuries that really plagued him. Relocated to San Antonio, he would get into only 70 AHL games over those two seasons.

Released from his contract in the summer of 2014, Caruso played a season in the ECHL with Reading before heading to Europe to extend his career and see the world.

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