Ryan Carter was one of the main pieces that New Jersey Devils head coach Peter DeBoer brought with him from the Florida Panthers. He was a relative unknown when he put on the Devils sweater, but that didn’t last long after he was a crucial part of the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2012.
After that season he signed a two-year extension to stay with the team as a part of the famous fourth line. This year was not their best season to say the least.
With Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta, Carter had a terrible start to the season. In his first 11 games, he was a minus-7. He started to turn it around in the middle of November, scoring three goals in the month.
Right when everything seemed to be going right, Carter injured his knee during a fight with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno. He ended up missing the entire month of December with the injury. That seemed to derail the momentum that the fourth line was starting to gain. When he returned, the Devils gave up on keeping those three together and experimented with AHL players like Reid Boucher and Mike Sislo in those spots.
Carter’s first month back was very quiet, scoring only one point with a minus-1. He was having trouble having the kind of impact that he had in seasons prior. The only point he had was in a 7-1 win against the St. Louis Blues and it seemed like he was pressing every time he stepped foot on the ice.
He never seemed to regain his footing for the rest of the season. After the Olympic break, he didn’t score a goal for 14 games before scoring two goals in his last six games. He was maddeningly inconsistent all season long. He has made his career with the Devils around being great when they needed him to be. Prior to his injury that’s exactly what he was, but after it he seemed like he was a different player. Blame it on the injury or blame it on trying to do too much for a team fighting for a playoff spot all season; either way he wasn’t as effective as expected.
It will be interesting to see if the Devils GM Lou Lamoriello offers Carter a contract extension this year. He is currently a free agent and may gain some interest around the league. His last season wasn’t his best, but he could still do some things with the team. For this season, however, he was just average.
Season Grade: C