Comparing Jeff Carter to NHL's Elite Shows He Fits In

CHICAGO - MAY 27: Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia Flyers talks with reporters during Stanley Cup media day at the United Center on May 27, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

After doing our Grading the Flyers for Jeff Carter, it again became obvious that he is a polarizing figure among Flyers fans. I don't like Jeff Carter, but I'm suddenly finding myself as one of his biggest defenders. It is an awkward position for me to be in.

And yet, defending Carter is not only easy, it shows just how good - and under-appreciated - he really is. Among all forwards who played fifty games this year, only one player faced tougher competition and scored more points per sixty minutes than Jeff Carter. That would be Pavel Datsyuk.

In addition, while Carter scored 2.48 points-per-60, only nine of the twenty-five players to face tougher competition than Carter scored even two points per sixty. Of those nine, only one of them started in the defensive zone more often than Carter. That would be Patrice Bergeron.

Let's look at those three for a second.


GP G A P CorsiRelQoC G/60 A1/60 Pts/60 GF/60 GA/60 CorsiRel OZ%
2010 - Jeff Carter 80 36 30 66 0.896 1.40 0.48 2.48 3.61 2.15 7.8 43.8
2010 - Pavel Datsyuk 56 23 36 59 1.175 1.08 1.08 2.72 3.44 2.51 13.48 47.7
2010 - Patrice Bergeron 80 22 35 57 1.026 1.00 0.88 2.46 3.46 2.40 11.6 42.7

Jeff Carter is legitimately in the conversation with Pavel Datsyuk and Patrice Bergeron as two of the best two-way players this past season. At even strength, Carter produces comparable points -- more goals, fewer assists -- but he also produces on the power play, driving his total points up. Yes, Datsyuk was injured, but Carter's ES production is not far behind.

He faces similarly strong competition, produces the same at even-strength, sees his team score more goals while he's on the ice while giving up fewer. Despite all of this, people complain about Carter. It baffles me. Travis' statement that he suffers from Bobby Abreu Syndrome is true: There isn't much more Carter could do to improve as a hockey player. Obviously, everybody can - and should strive to - get better, but Carter is already among the game's elite.

Those who criticize Carter need to look inward as he was one of the best forwards in the NHL this past year. You don't accomplish what he has through luck, laziness, or softness.

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