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2013-14 Rink Wrap: Connor Carrick

From Alzner to Wilson, we're taking a look at and grading the 2013-14 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2014-15. Next up, Connor Carrick.

Photo by Clyde Caplan/

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version, and a glossary of terms used in this post can be found here; data via, Extra Skater, Behind the Net, and CapGeek):


Carrick and his most frequent defensive partners, via


2013-14 Capitals 5v5 Defenseman Usage, via Extra Skater:


Carrick's Rookie Season (via


Previous Rink Wraps: None

Key Stat: Only 14 defenseman in the NHL who played at least 25% of their team's games, had a worse five-on-five goals-for percentage than Carrick's 38.9.

Interesting Stat: Probably the most interesting aspect of Connor Carrick's rookie campaign was the organization's preference of him to other young blueliners like Nate Schmidt and Steve Oleksy (and we debated keeping Carrick in the NHL from very early on). Despite being heartily outperformed by Schmidt and Oleksy in most measurables, Carrick saw more TOI/game (15.7 minutes) than Oleksy (14.9), and more total games (34) than Schmidt (29).

The Good: Well, it was a year of firsts for young Carrick, and regardless of the ups and downs of the season, he's now got 34 games of NHL experience under his belt, including a healthy stretch of high-stakes games with his team struggling to stay afloat. Compared to his fellow blueliners, Carrick did show reasonably well offensively at even strength. His 0.77 pts/60 at ES was good enough for third on the squad amongst players who saw more than ten games, trailing only Oleksy and Mike Green.

So, in 2013-2014 Carrick, one of the Caps' top prospects, saw his first goal, his first assist, his first fight, his first penalty minutes. Scratch 'em off the list, young whippersnapper.

The Bad: There are good situations for a 19-year-old defenseman to come into as a launchpad for his career, and there are poor situations. Skating fifteen minutes a night on a team with flawed coaching, system design, and overall underperformance should be filed under "poor." And unfortunately, Carrick's measurables reflect that.

Carrick was the Caps' worst possession blueliner, and when he was on the ice, if a red light was flashing, it was a near guarantee that the good guys wouldn't be the ones hugging it out. And it's not as if Carrick's constant digging the puck from his own net can be attributed to poor goaltending, as the veritable army of different tenders that played behind him posted a perfectly respectable 92% save percentage.

More discouraging yet, the abuse of Carrick came at the hands of opponents who aren't exactly known for lamplighting. No Caps defenseman saw easier* (depending how you interpret the QoC metric) competition than Carrick. Granted, what does it say about Calle Johansson that he gives his most struggling defenseman the team leading percentage of defensive zone starts?

Lastly (and this isn't "bad" on Carrick, per say), the team didn't make him available to the Hershey Bears down the stretch... so, instead, he sat and watched hockey for a few weeks and wouldn't have been eligible for the AHL playoffs, had Hershey qualified. Add it to the list questionable managerial decisions.

The GIF (by Capitals Hill):


Sprung from the penalty box on a gorgeous Marcus Johansson pass (not pictured), Carrick scored his first (and, to date, only) NHL goal in his second game. That tally cut Calgary's lead to 3-1 in a game the Caps would eventually win 5-4 in a shootout.

The Vote: Rate Carrick below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Discussion: Does Connor Carrick, at this point in his career, have a legitimate role to play on an NHL club? How much of his performance this year should be attributed to the shortcomings of the coaching and of his teammates? How much of his performance was purely a consequence of his own underdevelopment? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?