|08/09 Regular Season||76||5||21||26||3||22||21:23||2:19||38||142||56||47|
A lot of people think Matt Carle is an over-paid, offensive defenseman who doesn't play defense. In his first professional season, 2006-2007, he scored 11 goals and had 42 points in 77 games with the Sharks. Since then, he has been seen as a bust since he's combined for 7 goals and 41 points in the two years (138 games) since. So the Flyers acquired him pretty cheaply (Despite being a first-round pick, Steve Downie was in Stevens' dog-house) and were rewarded with Carle's best season since his rookie year. In fact, he was easily our third best defenseman this year, if not better than his partner Braydon Coburn.
There are many ways to judge Matt Carle. Starting with his salary, he is now the third highest paid defenseman behind Pronger and Timonen. Sounds expensive, but he makes the same amount Mike Rathje has been making for the past five years, and only $500k more than Randy Jones for the past two years. Yes, he's more than double Braydon Coburn, but Coburn's $1.4 million salary and Ryan Parent's $0.765 million are due hefty raises after this season. So, looking at the other Flyers, it seems he was fairly compensated for his performance this past year.
Carle also had the stats this year to warrant his salary. He had a -0.01 quality of competition rating, fourth on the team, to go along with a 0.02 quality of teammates rating, also fourth on the team. Basically, he played against average competition with average teammates. Even still, he had a better goal differential than Braydon Coburn, who had a 0.12 quality of teammate rating and a 0.01 quality of competition rating. In terms of goals scored while on the ice, Carle was a +5 (56 scored, 51 against) to Coburn's +2 (60 scored, 58 against). Goals against per 60 minutes of play had Carle tied with Kimmo Timonen at 2.42 . Even in more common stats, among defenseman Carle was second in blocked shots, first in takeaways, tied for first in giveaway-to-takeaway ratio with Ryan Parent, and led the team with the fewest penalty minutes per game. In 76 games, Carle drew a mere 11 minor penalties. In comparison, Jones drew 11 in 47 games, Timonen 27 minors in 77 games, with Coburn leading the team at 35 minors in 80 games. Ryan Parent drew 5 in 31 games to come close, but Carle was the most disciplined blue-liner this past year.
On a team against the salary cap, it may seem like a lot to pay Matt Carle $3.50 million dollars. But when you look at his production, you find that his salary is pretty fair. However, with Coburn, Parent, Pronger, and Jones being free agents after this season, someone on the defense will probably have to go. And potentially having your #5 and #6 defenseman making over $6 million combined is a good place to trim salary. Even still, another strong season like this past one and Carle can make that a difficult choice for Paul Holmgren.
As always, highlights after the jump.
Side note: Nice play by new Duck Luca Sbisa there.
Up next in our Grading the Flyers series: Andreas Nodl