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|2009 - Jeff Carter||74||33||28||61||2||38||11||2||6||19:18||319||10.3|
Jeff Carter was one of only two people to not be graded last year. That was unfortunate, but we won't let it happen again this year!
Unfortunately, Carter's 09-10 season wasn't quite as good as his 08-09. Not like it matters much, since Carter still had a pretty good season. 30 goals, 60 points, 6 game-winners, team-best faceoff percentage, etc. None too shabby, especially considering he missed 8 games with a broken foot.
The two big critiques of Carter's season would have to be his defense and his disappearing act in the playoffs. Yes, part of his problem in the playoffs was his injury. Completely understandable. But it's mitigated by two factors: It's now the second straight year he's had a disappointing playoffs and Simon Gagne returned from an injury before Carter and performed better than him.
Now, Carter still contributed 5 goals and 2 assists in 12 playoff games this year, good for 0.58 per game. The problem is that he's averaged 0.93 per game the past two years and had only 2 points in the Stanley Cup Finals. Maybe it's nitpicking, but Carter had two good games in this year's playoffs (Game 4 against New Jersey, and Game 5 against Montreal) where he scored 4 goals and 1 assist. In the other 10, he was good for 1 goal, 1 assist, and a minus-9.
Again, that's just the playoffs. He wasn't terrible, but with a player like Jeff Carter, the expectations are raised.
Carter's regular season was pretty frustrating as he was (and always has been) a very streaky scorer. His flaws are still there - missing the net far too often, looking lazy on certain shifts, going in long droughts, etc. - as are his strengths - great wrist shot, massive hot streaks, good skater, intimidating force, etc. - but one thing deserves special mention. Carter drastically improved his faceoffs this year. From a 45% in 06-07, Carter slowly raised his percent until this year, where it jumped to 52.4%.
While the book on Carter reads as a responsible two-way forward, he didn't exactly have a good year in his own zone. Just to illuminate this point, Carter's GAON/60 was higher than Ilya Kovalchuk's. Yes, there are mitigating factors (zone-start being the big one) but it's just an example. That's something Carter will have to improve upon next year.
But the real question for next year is whether Carter is asked to stay on the wing and whether he can perform there. Based on his performance on a line with Gagne and Mike Richards in the playoffs - where Carter only managed 3 goals and 1 assist in 8 games, while being a minus-4 - it will definitely be a struggle.
Still, Carter's game seems perfectly suited for the wing. He carries the puck in the zone along the wall and is a shoot-first player. His power-play goals come from off the half-wall and he is big enough to win battles in the corners. The only reason he can't excel on the wing is if he doesn't want to, which, whether we like it or not is a distinct possibility.
He gets a B for his reduced production, his streakiness, and his poor defensive season.