Fantasy Hockey: Player Profile On Los Angeles Kings Forward Jeff Carter


It has been a fairly unusual journey for Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter considering the wealth of talent this player possesses. The “Dry Island” instituted by then-Flyers coach Peter Laviolette in 2009 was put in place to get his players not to drink alcohol for a month. The two players who supposedly didn’t take part in this were Carter and Mike Richards. Rumors had long been this was why Carter was traded to Columbus, and Richards to Los Angeles.

Once in Columbus, rumors were again abound surrounding Carter, this time that he was unhappy and wanted out. Carter lasted all of 39 games in Ohio being shipped to Los Angeles. Since then, he’s racked two Stanley Cups with the Kings, with his line being one of the major factors of success for the Kings’ most recent championship.

It’s nothing new for professional athletes to have rumors swirl around them constantly. In any sport, extracurricular activities, perceived “poor” habits, and perceived damage to those around them in the dressing room are constant topics of conversation. The problem with this is two-fold:

  1. They always surround talented players. Fourth liners/healthy scratches are rarely mentioned in mainstream media. This is usually because their contribution to the team is minimal so any negative effect is dealt with swiftly by the team.
  2. Verifying sources for these stories is difficult. Few people are really in the know to understand what happens behind closed doors, and even fewer are looking forward to speak ill of teammates.

That’s what makes Carter unique, but at the same time, another in a long line of players to be decimated in the media. But for all his perceived faults, Carter has long proven himself to be one of the best in the world.

The Skill

Hockey’s Future is a good resource to go back and read what was thought of a player when they broke into the league. It’s easy to find scouting reports on future stars like Connor McDavid; it’s much harder to find scouting reports going back a decade. Most people know of his offensive skill, but it wasn’t that which separated Carter from others:

For his present level of play, [Carter] already is a responsible defensive player, a good faceoff man, and a strong forechecker … He has an arsenal of shots and good hand-eye coordination. A mature young man with strong work habits…

That last line is of particular importance. Even as a junior player, the scouts were aware of how hard he worked both on and off the ice. While there are undoubtedly players who slack on their work habits once they’ve “made it,” there’s no indication that Carter was one of those players, and in fact was lauded for the opposite.

But yes, of course, that shot. With the slightest of openings, Carter can get himself into a shooting position and unleash a wicked snap/wrist shot that gives goalies little chance if it doesn’t hit them. Just ask Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom:

I could watch that shot on loop for eternity.

Carter mixes the rare combination of vision, hands, shot abilities, and physical play with the pure knack of just knowing how to get into a good place for a shot. That combination is what makes him one of the special players in the NHL.

The Stats

Of course, lots of players come into the NHL with lots of skill, and never quite figure it out. Not so with Jeff Carter. In fact, let’s break his career down into two segments:

Jeff Carter with the Flyers (2005-2011)

  • Goals – 16th (181)
  • Goals per game – T-17th
  • Shots per game – 7th
  • Shots at 5-on-5 (2007-2011) – T-3rd
  • Shot attempts at 5-on-5 per 60 minutes (2007-2011) – 3rd
  • CorsiFor-percentage at 5-on-5 (2007-2011) – 184th (49.8-percent)

Maybe Carter wasn’t being selective enough with his shots, but it’s obvious just how good he was. Remember, that 2005 season where the sample begins was his rookie season. Because of the lockout, he was a bit more aged (21-years-old), but it was still his rookie year nonetheless. He had more goals over that stretch than guys like Corey Perry, Daniel Alfredsson, and Zach Parise. That includes Perry’s 50-goal season, and Alfredsson playing on that monster top line in Ottawa for a few of those years.

Here’s what’s happened since:

Jeff Carter with the Blue Jackets and Kings (2011-2015)

  • Goals – 18th (79)
  • Goals per game – 11th
  • Shots at 5-on-5 (2011-2014) – 39th
  • Shot attempts at 5-on-5 per 60 minutes (2011-2014) – 11th
  • CorsiFor-percentage at 5-on-5 (2011-2014, among forwards) – 50th

His goals and goal per game marks remained fairly stable, even as his shots per game and per 60 minutes declined. This was a player who grew to be efficient as he aged, and remained as consistent as ever. Also, the move to Los Angeles helped his possession numbers quite a bit, as he became one of the focal points of their offense.

These days, his line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are among the best in the NHL. For a guy whose career has been marred by rumors of “unhappiness” and “partying problems,” Jeff Carter has been consistently elite for a decade. Maybe all those rumors were a little unfounded, or at the very least, not as serious as they were made out to be. If they had been, Carter wouldn’t be among the top players in the game since he broke into the league in 2005.

*As always, thanks to Hockey Reference, Hockey Analysis, War On Ice, and NHL.com.

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