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2022-23 Season In Review: Jeff Carter

It was not a particularly good or strong season for the Pittsburgh Penguins veteran third-line center.

NHL: FEB 26 Lightning at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Player: Jeff Carter
Born: January 1, 1985 (Age 38)
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 219 pounds
Hometown: London, Ontario, Canada
Shoots: Right
Draft: 2003 NHL Draft, 1st round (11th overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers
2022-23 Statistics: 79 games played, 13 goals, 16 assists, 29 points
Contract Status: Carter is signed for one more year at a salary cap hit of $3.125 million and will then be an unrestricted free agent. His contract contains a complete no-movement clause.
Fun fact: Carter won 59.4 percent of his face-offs during the 2022-23 season and was one of the top centers in the league on the draw.
History: Jeff Carter season in review for the 2021-22 season as well as the 2020-21 season

Monthly Splits

via Yahoo!

There is not much good here in terms of production or ice-time (as in, there was too much of it). It was not until February where his ice-time started to get reduced and dropped down to an appropriate level for what he was producing and providing.

Story of the Season

Because of the contract that former general manager Ron Hextall signed him to the Penguins were pretty much forced into having Carter open the season as their third-line center.

It was a big role, and historically an important role for the Penguins in the Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin era, and he simply did not do a very good job filling it.

Carter’s one value at this point in his career is his ability to score goals, which he has done very well at times during his Penguins tenure. He simply did not do it enough this season, and when he was not doing that bad things were generally happening for the Penguins.

He would have random moments where he would come through (like that two-goal game in Colorado) but there were not enough of them to justify the contract Hextall signed him to or the ice-time he was getting. It seemed like every big moment he was on the ice taking a big face-off or getting a big assignment in trying to protect a one-goal lead or change the game in some way. The game usually changed, but rarely for the better.

Regular season 5v5 advanced stats

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 15 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.

Corsi For%: 47.40% (14th)
Goals For%: 36.92% (14th)
xGF%: 49.14% (13th)
Scoring Chance %: 48.40% (12th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 46.86% (14th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 5.73% (9th)
On-ice save%: 90.85% (11th)
Goals/60: .50 (14th)
Assists/60: .58 (14th)
Points/60: 1.08 (14th)

The numbers here speak for themselves and confirm the eye test everybody had. Just nothing positive happening on an individual or team level for Carter or the Penguins when he was on the ice. Offensive production? Non-existent. They also spent the bulk of their time defending in their own zone, and defending poorly. No categories ranking higher than 9th, only two higher than 12th and most of them in the 14 range.

Charts for Carts

It’s obvious that Carter has hit the aging wall, and hard, over the last few seasons.

Mike Sullivan, despite taking criticism for even playing Carter in the first place, did limit Carter’s ice time an extreme and consistent amount as the season went on (third from bottom graph above). It looks like Carter’s career had a “dead cat bounce” upon joining the Pens — one last hurrah of excitement and good results on either side of a slow ending with the LA Kings, followed by another downturn with the Pens after the initial good play wore off.

2.33 expected goals per 60 is one of the lowest on the team. Carter simply doesn’t have the hands or legs to help facilitate offense on a consistent basis anymore, and is often a beat behind the play or turning the puck over as a result.

With the exception of the outlier known as Kasperi Kapanen (a problem in and of itself), replacing Carter with anyone else was always a drastically and demonstrably good thing for the Penguins.


Jeff Carter wins a game in overtime in Buffalo for the Penguins.

His second goal of the game in Colorado to help lead the Penguins to a shocking win on the road against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.

Jeff Carter got Derek Lalonde ejected in Detroit which is one of the funnier moments of the season.

Getting the best of Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson.

Bottom line

Carter is what he is as a player at this point, and almost all of my criticism for his play was directed at the front office and coaching staff.

All he did was sign a contract he was offered and go on the ice when he was told.

The Carter issue went far above him.

It was a contract extension that was completely unnecessary at the time (or at any time given his age and the concerns that existed with his play) and it sabotaged a big part of the roster. Mike Sullivan had no choice at times but to play him, but I still feel like he could have been used more sparingly than he was. There was no need to put him out for every overtime face-off, or every big moment with the game on the line. That could have been avoidable.

Ideal 2023-24

Barring a miracle trade request from Carter or a sudden retirement the Penguins are almost certainly going to have to find a place for Carter during the 2023-24 season. It is not an ideal situation, especially since he will be one year older and not likely to become any better overnight. The best-case scenario within that context is that the Penguins are able to build a better roster at the bottom of the lineup, can dramatically limit Carter’s role, and he has a strong year shooting the puck and scores a few goals. That is the best-case scenario.


How Would You Grade Jeff Carter’s 2022-23 Season

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