Jeff Carter was signed by Paul Holmgren this past weekend. He signed for 11 years for a reported $58 million dollars working out to about a $5.27 million dollar cap hit. This is more than reasonable, this is a great deal. Regardless of whether you like the guy or you hate the guy, Jeff Carter puts a lot of pucks in the back of the net. Over the past three seasons he has scored more goals than any Flyers forward, totaling 108 tallies for the Orange and Black. He has the best faceoff percentage of any Center in the past two seasons and right now owns the best faceoff percentage on the team at a real good 58.7% success rate.
There’s a lot to like, but so many Flyers fans complain about so many things about Jeff Carter and have wanted Holmgren to trade him nearly all of last year, this summer, and especially now that he has been signed. For instance they like to say he’s a one-dimensional forward, he always takes shots from bad angles down the wing, and that he always misses the net high and wide with that wrist shot he takes more than anyone on the team. Is that true? Is Jeff Carter really just a shooting forward who does nothing else for the Flyers than start opponents rushes and pots goals against bad teams and takes bad shots rather than try to make a pretty play and doesn’t play defense? Should he be traded for a real good two-way center and another middle of the road scoring winger? Well let’s take a look.
Last season Jeff Carter missed shots than any Flyers forward, missing a total of 141 shots directed towards the net year, good enough for third in the entire NHL as well. That’s a lot of shots going high or wide or hitting the post. However, he took 319 shots that actually made it on net, which put him at first on the Flyers and third in the league. If we do some math, Carter had 460 attempts at the net and missed the it 30.7% of the time he put the puck towards the net… Or he hit either the back of the net or the opposing goalie 69.3% of the time if you wanna look at it that way. That’s not bad considering Mike Richards missed 97 shots, got 237 of them on net, for a total of 334 shot attempts and that gives us a 29.4% for how many times he fired the puck towards the net and missed it entirely or got the post. If you want to look at the percentages of other Flyers forwards who took shots last year and missed everything or hit the post here’s a list: Claude Giroux missed 30.6%, Scott Hartnell missed 27.9%, Danny Briere only missed 22.5% of his shots, and Simon Gagne missed 24.4% of the shots he directed towards the four by six opening.
Carter’s percentage of missed shots was higher than any other Flyers forward, but he was within a percentage point and a half of both Richards and Giroux and only three percentage points above Hartnell. This year Carter has again missed more shots than any Flyers forward with 33 missed shots, while taking a team high 65 shots on goal, accruing 98 total shots towards the net, and currently missing 33.7% of the time. Richards misses 39.4% of the shots he’s directed towards the net, Ville Leino has missed 43.6% of the shots he’s directed towards the net, Hartnell has missed 29.1% of his shots, Nikolay Zherdev has missed 24.5% of his shots, Briere has missed only 22.1% of his shots, and Claude Giroux has missed only 20.4% of his shots on net. Carter’s shots don’t miss the net as often as people would like to think, and stats really don’t lie. You can say whatever you want, but the guy hits the goaltender or the back of the net an awful lot when he shoots the puck.
A lot of the times when Carter shoots, Flyers fans groan and say “Oh no, another shot from a bad angle right into the goalie’s chest. He sucks!” But realistically, when you’re a center and you win 58.7% of your faceoffs this year, and lead the team with a 52.4% success rate last year on faceoffs, doesn’t that mean it’s not a bad idea to shoot, even if it’s a bad angle and has little chance to go in? Of course it’s not a bad idea, you would rather take an offensive zone draw than make a bad pass and have the puck going the other way, plus if you hit the goalie, he has to make a save first, and what the other forward who was looking for a pass is supposed to do then is go to the net for a rebound. You never know what can happen when you shoot the puck, but in order to score a goal, you have to shoot the puck. If I’m Carter, I’ll take my chances shooting the puck instead of trying a pass across to the guy breaking in with me on a rush.
Now, perhaps the most untruthful thing Flyers fans who dislike Carter say about him: “He’s a one-dimensional player and all he does is shoot the puck”. Well on offense, sure, he shoots the puck a lot. But what about his two-way play? This season he is tied with Mike Richards for the takeaway lead on the Flyers with 12. Last year, Carter had 43 takeaways where he was bested only by Claude Giroux’ 49 amongst all Flyers players. During the 2008-2009 Season you ask? Carter’s 72 takeaways were second to Mike Richards’ 83 on the team. And in 2007-2008 Jeff Carter led the Flyers with 56 takeaways. Carter may not block a lot of shots as over the past four seasons he has blocked totals of 53 in 2007-2008, 53 in 2008-2009, and 34 in 2009-2010, but he certainly steals the puck away from people a good amount of the time. The thing people might not know about Jeff Carter is he’s a good two-way player which is absolutely demonstrated by his takeaway numbers and that gets lost because throughout his career thus far, he’s played mostly with defensive liabilities like Joffrey Lupul, Scott Hartnell, and Danny Briere. Also, over the past three years, Carter has more shorthanded goals than any Flyers player not named Mike Richards with two in 2007-2008, four in 2008-2009, and two in 2009-2010. Carter has seen his shorthanded time on ice cut this year, but that is only because Claude Giroux has been such a phenomenal penalty killer and with Giroux and Richards on the ice during man down situations, the Flyers are more about attacking than killing. Giroux currently leads the team and the league with three shorthanded tallies.
As far as players go, Jeff Carter may not be the best player on the ice, but he is definitely worth that $5.27 million dollar contract and will definitely be an asset for many years to come if he stays healthy, which he has had a track record of doing, missing only eight games in the past three seasons. Knowing all of this information now, do you still want to trade Jeff Carter? I know I don’t.