Connor Carrick: 2013-14 Season Review

wilson-not-carrick-wait-no-nevermind

Photo: Chris Gordon, defaced by me

Of all the new defensemen the Caps suited up the season, Connor Carrick lasted the longest. The rookie had a bit of a rollercoaster season– one of those rollercoasters where you almost fall out or get hit in the face by a swan or something.

By the Numbers

34 Games played
15.7 Average time on ice per game
1 Goals
5 Assists
43.9% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
38.9% Goal percentage during 5v5
7.4% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
92.1% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

Peter’s Take

Somewhat infamously, the Caps fielded 14 defensemen this season. Among them was 5′ 10″ Connor Carrick, who made the team as a rookie based on a strong preseason. Things started off splendidly with Carrick’s first NHL goal in early October, but it went south really, really quick.

For all of our kvetching about the Caps’ need for a top-four defenseman, it was Carrick’s third pairing that really got dominated. Relative to when he was on the bench, Carrick got outshot more than any other full-time D-man who wasn’t so totally obviously playing through an injury. Somewhat ironically, it was when Carrick and John Erskine paired up that they each did best– not getting outscored and directing more Caps shots towards the other team’s net compared to when they were apart.

Still, it’s impossible to look at Carrick’s rookie year without gloom. Carrick was in over his head, particularly when he didn’t have a veteran at his flank, and he earned the rest he got in mid-March. Perhaps he’ll be rejuvenated in October, and we’ll see the results on the ice.

Connor on RMNB

In Pictures

Connor’s first NHL goal. Kind of nasty.

And the customary congrats from the Captain.

Sidney Crosby, whom I am contractually obligated to call the Greatest Player on Earth whenever I mention his name, pulled a dick move on little Cricket.

Your Turn

Is Connor Carrick a viable NHL defenseman? Where did his season go wrong: linemates, systems, lack of experience, or something else? Where is his game lacking and what about it do you like so far?

Read more: Japers Rink, Peerless

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  • Owen Johnson

    “Where did his season go wrong: linemates, systems, lack of experience, or something else?”

    Yes.

    I like the guy, but he was in no way ready for the NHL this year.

  • Graham Dumas

    Also, holy crap, 5′ 8″?!?

  • Matt Lauer

    Am I one of the few people on this site who actually like Carrick?! I see tons of potential in this player, despite his flaws (which, though visible, I think have been overblown).

  • VeggieTart

    It’s not a matter of not liking him; it’s a matter of thinking he should have spent more time in Hershey for development. I think the consensus, at least here, is that he was way overmatched.

  • Matt Lauer

    I suppose I question that first part of your response. Even in the above article, we see tons of gestures that doubt his future viability in the NHL at all. I also always questioned the notion that he was radically overmatched. I actually thought he moved the puck well.

  • Owen Johnson

    He was totally overmatched. I’m not putting any blame on him. He just turned 20. Being a full-time NHL defenseman was just too much too soon for him (especially since we had better options in Hershey). He does have potential though, and I hope the next coach can nurture that instead of throwing him to the wolves.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    It’s worth pointing out that he was 19 when he made his NHL debut and 20 now. Most defensemen aren’t in their prime until they’re much older. I think his struggles were in large part because:

    A) He wasn’t ready for the NHL level this season
    B) The Caps team defense, which was already bad, was made worse by Adam Oates’ systems
    C) Erskine – need I say more

    I think he will develop into a Brian Rafalski type player. I think he’ll be in the league for a really long time, but next year he might be in the minors for most of the year, because part of me really hopes we’ll have more top tier defenseman depth at the NHL level.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I’m with you, Matt.

  • JH

    I CANNOT tell the difference between Carrick and Wilson. In person, it’s probably easier since Wilson has 7 inches on Carrick.

    I’m sad because he seems like a great kid, but he’s pretty short for a D man, no? St. Louis is short and has had longevity in the NHL, but it would seem a forward can better make up for lack of size than a D man I would think. Even if stature is not a disqualifier, I’d like him to get more seasoning in Hershey.

  • Matt Lauer

    Hallelujah! This deserted island’s population just doubled.

  • Matt Lauer

    I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • DashingDave314

    Right now, no Connor is not a viable NHL defenseman. Then again, how many 19/20 year olds can you say are “viable NHL defenseman”? His season went wrong for two reasons:

    1.) Crappy linemates. Hard to look good when you’re playing with the equivalent of a traffic cone (John Erskine).
    2.) Lack of experience. He wasn’t close to being NHL-ready, yet he was thrown into the fire. He would have greatly benefited from a year in Hershey.

    Where his game is lacking:
    1.) Lack of physicality.
    2.) Positioning needs to improve. If it does, the above concern might cease to exist.

    What I like:
    1.) I can definitely see a ton of potential in his offensive game.
    2.) Can’t say enough about his positive attitude. From interviews, it seems like he’s not getting distraught over this season’s failures.

    Also, he likes Chipotle, so that’s always a plus.

  • OlietheGoalie

    I like the kid, but he needs to go to Hershey to learn some more. It’s not his fault as has been said – he has major potential, but Oates threw him to the wolves and said “best of luck.”

  • Steve

    He’s a plug

  • Austin

    I don’t think connor carrick is 5’8″ I’m almost positive he is about 5’10″ 1/2. I’m not sure where you got 5’8″ from but I can guarantee he is taller than that Peter. I digress, but when it comes to the him as a player I like his upside, but again, he should have developed more in the AHL and hopefully he will this fall

  • OVECHKING

    No stanley cup contenting team can have Carrick, Orlov, Green, Schmidt and Carlson all on the roster together. Identify the keepers and move at least two of those guys I listed above. There is no way all of them have a future wearing a caps jersey at the same time.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I checked sources that put him between 5’8″ and 5’11″. I’ll be charitable and split the difference at 5’10″.

    But I’ve also stood in the same room as him. Soooo… dubious.

  • Guest

    Yeah, because having lots of depth sucks.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’ve heard team folks say the plan was to use the vet Hillen as a stabilizing influence and voice of experience for the young D they were to cycle through. Obviously that didn’t happen, but I have *some* sympathy towards that reasoning– though it does hint that the team knew they were in rebuild/retool mode rather than competing for a Cup.

  • OVECHKING

    If having a bunch of #6/#7 Dmen as “depth” is your cup of tea, then please, dont expect a cup any time soon. The caps need at 2 top 4 dmen on this roster. You trade your assets+ to get that.

    I didn’t even list Olesky, Hillen, Kundratek Wey and some of the other guys the caps have.

  • OVECHKING

    When Mitchell on the Kings got injured, they put Matt Greene into the lineup as their 6th dmen. That’s the kings “depth”. Matt Greene could probably be the 3rd best dmen on the caps.

  • sheena dunn

    I am a HUGE Carrick fan!!! I almost broke my ankle the day he scored that goal!

  • OVECHKING

    There is certainly a lack leadership in various areas of the organization…

  • sheena dunn

    He’s about the same height as Hillen.

  • tpr04

    Hillen has never played a full 82 game season thus far. The best he recorded was 69 games – almost always with 3rd pairing minutes. He’s played a career 9 playoff games.

    That is not the kind of “veteran experience” that young players need. The reasoning may be arguably sound, but the assessment of who the vet is – is completely wrong, an often injured 3rd pairing d-man who had trouble getting on the ice for mostly poor NYI teams. That part makes no sense.

  • Pat Magee

    He would’ve been fine in hershey the whole year. Look how good Dima got after a couple seasons!

  • tpr04

    Carrick should not have played 34 games this year. He was not ready. The only saving grace for him is that the next coach will be an improvement from the last, as there’s no where to go but up. He should be in Hershey developing.

  • DashingDave314

    And now they have Jeff Schultz, what’s your point?

  • DashingDave314

    If you trade all your depth, what happens when your players inevitably get injured? Green is the only one you mentioned who they should be shopping. You definitely don’t shop Orlov, he’s a rarity- an above-average defenseman who’s cheap. Schmidt, you don’t get anything for him cause he’s an RFA (according to capgeek). Carrick, you might be able to, but probably not by himself.

    They’re not getting anything of value for Hillen, Kundy, Wey, or Steve-O. If they do, the GM that gives up said value deserves to be fired on the spot.

  • JenniferH

    I like him; he’s a bit rough, but that comes with inexperience.

  • Eric Schulz

    I don’t think you need to trade “at least” two. I think one is fine. Top pairing is obviously Alzner – Carlson; that’s legit. Green on 2nd pair; nothing wrong with that (as long as you pair him with a guy the Caps haven’t had since Hannan). Orlov on 3rd pair; that’s better than average at least, although same as in Green’s case, we need an Alzner/Hannan/Reekie complement. Oleksy is a fine 7th; not great, but he’s not dragging you down either.
    In the AHL: Schmidt with Wey as the top pair makes sense to me, at least on paper. If Carlson/Green/Orlov gets hurt, Schmidt gets called up and we maintain 3 average-to-above average offensive defensemen for each slot (Carlson is at least average for 1st, and really he and Alzner are just better than the sum of their parts; Green is obviously better than a 2nd, he’s still probably the best offensive defenseman in the league, he just has a problem with injuries, and the Caps “system” hasn’t done him any favors the last few years – he’s not great defensively by any means, but he’s no Ozolinsh either, he’s just been exposed probably more than any elite OFD ever has been; Orlov is *maybe* a legit 2nd, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if he takes a nice step forward next year, and Schmidt is at least a legit 3rd, at least based on what – small sample size – we saw of him).
    Brouillette really impressed me last year; I think he and Oleksy make a fine 7th and/or 8th… since we have Schmidt, we don’t need both of those guys, but I don’t see that a trade nets us anything of worth. Strachan’s a veteran guy too, and he didn’t suck. Also, Wey was voted the best defensive defenseman in the Hockey East last year; I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a nice step and was able to be a steady presence next to Orlov on the 3rd… even if he did, I think I’d sign a guy and keep Wey down in the AHL, but he’s a guy the Caps need to hang on to, IMO.
    So… as the roster stands now (buy out Erskine, I’d think… if he was just injured all year, and bounces back, that’s huge, but I don’t know…):
    Alzner – Carlson
    Hillen – Green
    Orlov – Brouillette
    scratch: Oleksy
    AHL:
    Schmidt – Wey
    Strachan
    and 3 others dudes.
    We have depth in the AHL, and Oleksy seems to me like a legit 7th guy… he was one of our better defenders when he played, and while that speaks to our weakness at the position, he should be a fine fallback option. Our top line is fine, and honestly I think our 3rd is fine too. As this article pointed out in passing, it was our 3rd that really got killed. Stick Orlov on it permanently, and I think it’s now a position of strength as long as he’s paired with a steady guy. Brouillette is my favorite of the guys we have, although you could maybe flip him with Oleksy, Strachan, or Wey depending on offseason developments or personal preference. Not sure there’s a big difference outside of Wey’s development. If Erskine returns to form, he and Orlov would make a great 3rd, and really we just pair Brouillette with Strachan and have a likely above average AHL top-4 (I don’t follow the AHL too much, so maybe not… just guessing based on NHL team’s depth).
    So, to me, that really just means that Hillen is kind of the odd man out. He’s a fine defender, but to me he’s a ‘tweener. He doesn’t fit as Orlov’s partner on the 3rd; Erskine (of old, not “old”) is a better fit, Brouillette and Oleksy may be as well, and Wey definitely is (stylistically; as far as ability, we’ll have to see). So, that’s really where we need to upgrade. The problem is, Hillen is pretty good, very cheap… but I really don’t see what he’d really fetch us in a trade… outside of being the kicker in a deal, at least. But maybe we’d be better off trading him anyway, even if it’s for a relatively low pick, just because we have no real place for him.
    SO: To me, Carrick is definitely tradeable; given Carlson, Green, Orlov, Schmidt, we even have a 4th OFD to use as an injury call-up. Carrick is so young that he should have some very nice trade value. I’d try to package him with Johansson… you could add Brouwer, Hillen, and/or a 1st (I want this year’s, but next year’s should be the 1st of a team that made the playoffs, I’d definitely include that in a trade if need be) to try to acquire that top-4 defender, and/or go after a big-time two-way centerman. I’ve mentioned before that, were I the GM, I’d see if Vancouver was still shopping Kesler. If he still wants out… it really looks like they need to rebuild. They have lots of nice young talent, but not a lot of veterans. Even if not, Johansson could play 3rd C right away, and if you throw in another NHLer – Brouwer and/or Hillen.. I’d prefer Ward to Brouwer, but I doubt that gets it done – along with Carrick, that seems like a foundation for the trade. Maybe you throw in another prospect – Kundratek, Galiev, Anderson, whomever – or next year’s 1st. I would expect it would take Johansson, Carrick, and the 1st… maybe a kicker, whether that’s Hillen, Brouwer, Ward, or a prospect… and that makes it hard to add that top-4 defender with what assets we have left, which especially hurts given the lackluster FA D-class… but still, we need better center play, both defensively and in the faceoff circle. Kesler would provide that and scoring too. I’d love to add Meszaros as a FA… I’d prefer him on the 3rd, but in this scenario, maybe he’s Green’s partner. Maybe you take a flyer on another guy too; I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Hannan so far, as old as he is… if he (or a similar player) is cheap enough, take a chance. Find a way to resign Penner as well as Grabovski (with a new GM and coach, I think it’s possible if we want them, and we should). Then:
    Ovechkin – Backstrom – Penner
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Wilson
    Laich – Kesler – Fehr
    Chimera – Beagle – Ward
    Alzner – Carlson
    Hannan – Green
    Orlov – Meszaros
    Holtby
    FREE AGENT
    (Emery, Clemmenson, Greiss, Emery, Stalock, somebody like that.)

    Burakovsky – Latta – Brown
    Stoa – Barber – Wellman
    Galiev – Stephenson – ?
    ? – ? – ?
    Schmidt – Wey
    Brouillette – Oleksy
    Strachan
    Grubauer
    Anderson
    (something like that; not sure about Barber’s and Stephenson’s AHL eligibility; think they will be 20, not sure how the month factors in, if at all.)

    We should have between $3-$5 million of cap room, conservatively, depending on where the Cap falls between $69-$71 million. Maybe/hopefully Latta surpasses Beagle and grabs the 4th line C spot (notice I have Chimera and Ward as the wings after the impressive year they each had: ROLL FOUR LINES.) If Laich doesn’t improve, maybe Burakovsky is ready… I didn’t think there was a chance of that not long ago, now I’m not so sure.

    So, to boomerang back to your point: Carrick is definitely tradeable, and he and Johansson should have the most trade value, I’d expect. Kundratek is easily tradeable as well, although I don’t see getting more than a pick or another prospect for him, unless he’s part of a larger package; same with Hillen, but he’s more valuable to us since he’s cheap AND NHL-ready, so you don’t trade him unless you bolster the defense through free agency in a solid way.

  • James Desautels

    Tobias Enstrom is very short as well and he’s had a solid career. I believe Kimmo Timmonen is also around 5’10 or perhaps slightly smaller and he’s had a great career. Niklas Kronwall is 5’10 and he’s had a great career and he’s a feared open ice hit machine, and as Ian mentioned, Brian Rafalski was GENEROUSLY listed at 5’10, so I wouldn’t discredit his abilities as a quality NHL Dman on physical stature alone. Contrarily, there have been pretty good flameouts of NHL Dman who never really lived up to size or played the way one would assume a tree of a man would…(cough) Jeff Shultz, Jason Doig, Milan Jurcina, Nolan freaking Yonkman.

    The kid def has potential, I think we all agree, but he was thrust into a situation he really wasn’t ready to be involved in. We are lucky next year if this train wreck of a memory is behind him.

  • johnnymorte

    Carrick is a good kid but we have too many puck-moving Dmen on this team and not enough Alzners. Schmidt is sound technically, but he lacks intimidation factor and he needs to learn a higher tenacity.. Wey looked really good to me when he played, very comfortable at the high level. He also won The Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman last year which reflected in his play. I’d like to see Carrick moved while giving Wey a job next year.

  • John Martino

    The fact that he saw the ice for the Capitals for more than an injury-fill-in cup of coffee is due to the Capitals’ flaws. If you have a (small) 20-year old in the NHL, he had better be a phenom. Not a guy with decent long-term potential who has the immediate potential to get dominated.

  • DashingDave314

    Don’t move Carrick unless you get something valuable in return. At worst, Carrick is a very nice depth guy to have. That said, I think that a Carrick/MoJo package might net a solid top 4 D. I’d do that trade in a heartbeat.

  • DashingDave314

    Yeah, Carrick and MoJo are quite tradeable. Perhaps flip them to the Canucks for Edler? Add Orpik to a 2 year deal and the Ds look really good.

    Edler-Carlson
    Alzner-Green
    Orpik-Orlov
    Wey as the extra D.

  • DashingDave314

    I’m 5’8″. I’ve stood next to Connor and he ain’t 5’8″. My guess would be 5’10″.

  • JH

    Good points. How about Jeff Schultz last night. I forgot he was 6’6″. I’m not saying height is everything. But it helps.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I’d say Karlson and PK would have something to say about Green being called the top offensive d-man in the league. :) Other than that, sounds good.

  • Eric Schulz

    I’d always keep Alzner and Carlson together; the two of them and the two of Ovechkin and Backstrom have proven, again and again, that they are more than the sum of their parts. So:
    Alzner – Carlson
    Edler – Green
    Not a big difference, but w/e.
    And I’d say the extra D… well, if you mean *scratch,* then I’d go with a veteran guy (you don’t want a young guy wasting development time sitting), so Oleksy, Brouillette, or Strachan would be my picks, in that order. Although we’re forgetting Hillen… he’s a bit of a tweener, though: doesn’t fit really well on any line, but too good to scratch, and too cheap to trade. Maybe you have to trade him anyway, or just rotate him in and out every once in a while.
    The extra D-man in terms of call-up in the event of a legit injury (rather than a one or two game scratch because of wear and tear), I’d say it’s Wey AND Schmidt, depending on who is hurt. (Although that assumes Hillen is gone).

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, they can say whatever they want, doesn’t change facts.

  • Eric Schulz

    Canucks *seem* to be rebuilding; I’d guess that we could get one of: Hamhuis, Bieksa, or Edler. Any of those 3 would be fine, IMO.