Contrary to recent events, coaches aren’t the only people in hockey that can get paid. The Toronto Maple Leafs displayed that this afternoon by signing forward Sam Carrick to a one-year contract.
While there seems to be an emphasis on the upcoming wave of Leafs prospects, Carrick is a carry-over that is definitely worth continuing to pay attention to. While the 23-year-old doesn’t have elite upside by any means, he plays a bottom six game that’s very suited to the modern game.
In his past two seasons, Carrick has been a staple on the Toronto Marlies, picking 74 points in 140 games played over that time. Over these two seasons, he’s consistently been one of the team’s leaders in shots per game, a heavy and frequent hitter, a key part of the team’s penalty kill, and more than willing to drop the gloves when need be. In that same group of games, Carrick ammassed 241 penalty minutes, with sixteen fighting majors taking up a major chunk of that.
Last year, Carrick got his first extended look in the NHL, earning a couple of callups throughout the year. In sixteen games, he picked up a goal and assist. This is something that needs to improve in the future if he would like to stick around, but seeing as he was used in shutdown situations and played most of his games in the midst of the mid-late season collapse, it’s at least somewhat understandable. Despite the difficult situations, Carrick managed to put up strong positive relative possession numbers in his time with the team.
It’ll be interesting to see what’s next for the 2010 5th Round Draft pick. If previous years are of any indication, Carrick will be back in the gym and on the ice sooner than later, with an emphasis on improving his skating, an area where he’s made major strides in since junior. The short term of the deal is curious and turns it into a “prove it” year; if he plays well, he could earn an NHL raise. If he drops the ball, he might not get qualified next summer.
Reccomended Reading: “The Emergence of Sam Carrick“, April 2014