If we started compiling this list of the 100 best players in the National Hokcey League right now a couple of years ago, then Jeff Carter may have been much closer to the top 10, rather than hanging out near the bottom. But this ain’t 2009.
Carter isn’t too far removed from his 46 goal campaign of ’08-’09, but it sure seems like it, mostly thanks to last season. We’ll call 2011-2012 his “lost season”, though he was only really lost until February, when he made it out to Hollywood.
But before we get to Carter’s recent exploits with the Los Angeles Kings, we have to start with thePhiladelphia Flyers, where Carter broke into the league and emerged as one of the premier offensive players in the game.
Carter was an 11th overall pick of the Flyers back in 2003, making his debut at the beginning of the ’05-’06 season. He finished with 42 points that year, a mark he almost reached in the following season despite playing in 20 less games in 2006-2007. His fourth year in the league was the big one, finishing with 84 points (46 G, 38 A).
That season may have been the outlier for Carter, as he’s been unable to crack even 70 points since. He has reached the 30-goal mark twice since, though, so the scoring ability is still there. We just didn’t see it last year.
Carter struggled throughout the 2011-2012 season, after he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He had just 25 points on the year before he was sent to the Kings. He didn’t put up big numbers in his brief time with LA during the regular season, but proved to be an important piece of a team that won the franchise their first Stanley Cup in the team’s history.
He wrapped up the postseason with 13 points in 20 games, including a hat trick in the Western Conference Finals. He started the postseason off slow, but picked things up later. Along with the hat trick, Carter also scored four goals in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Now Carter has a fresh start with the Kings. He’s reunited with his best buddy Mike Richards, who goes back to his Philly days. After a playoff run to get comfortable, he comes into a season in a place where he’s happy, rather than preparing to sulk for a poor club for the first few months of the year.
With the new start, Richards, and a strong team around him, I expect Carter to return to his big point totals that we saw in Philly. I highly doubt he’ll reach 80 points again anytime soon, but he’s going to be a big part of the Kings’ offense moving forward, and should return to his 30-goal scoring ways in 2012-2013, if the season starts on time.
A solid year from Carter would very likely lead him to see a jump on this list next year.