Leafs sign Connor Carrick to two-year contract

Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com

The Toronto Maple Leafs have officially completed signing all of their restricted free agents that aren’t tied to arbitration cases, having signed defenceman Connor Carrick to a two-year contract this afternoon.

Carrick was acquired by the Leafs on February 28th in a move that sent himself, Brooks Laich, and a second round draft pick to Toronto in exchange for Daniel Winnik and a fifth round pick. Since then, the 22-year-old defenceman has paid immediate dividends, playing above-replacement hockey with the Leafs before absolutely dominating the Calder Cup Playoffs with the Marlies.

In fifteen games spread across three rounds, Carrick scored seven goals and eleven assists. Despite being a defenceman, and despite not playing in the finals, Carrick led the entire league in playoff scoring. This was no doubt helped by a monster performance in Game 3 of the first round, where Carrick triggered a comeback from 4-1 by scoring three goals and adding a pair of assists. 

Carrick is expected to graduate to the Maple Leafs full-time this year, based on his inching towards prime age, his relative success with the Leafs, and his prior experience with the Capitals. He also has the advantage of being a right-handed shot, which is valuable on a team that lacks depth on that side. Carrick played most of his hockey last year with Jake Gardiner, and was one of the few players on the team who was able to make his possession numbers even better. 

If I had to speculate, though, I’d slot him in as the mobile defender on a pairing with Martin Marincin, who he also had success with in a limited 62-minute sample. The two compliment each other; Carrick has the offensive instincts and is no stranger to being an aggressive pest, while Marincin brings positional awareness and size on the left side. Of course, Mike Babcock might see things differently.

 2010-11  USNTDP Juniors 16  USHL 36 1 6 7 42 2 4.31
 2011-12  USNTDP Juniors 17  USHL 21 1 4 5 30 1 5.27
 2012-13  Plymouth Whalers  18  OHL 68 12 32 44 79 27 16.98
 2013-14  Washington Capitals 19  NHL 34 1 5 6 23 -9 14.47
 2014-15  Hershey Bears 20  AHL 73 8 34 42 132 -8 22.17
 2015-16  Hershey / Toronto 21  AHL 52 11 18 29 52 25 21.49

 SEASON TEAM Age GP G A TP PIM +/- 5v5 P60 CF%Rel
 2013-14  Washington Capitals 19 34 1 5 6 23 -9 0.77 -1.04
 2015-16  Washington / Toronto 21 19 2 2 4 15 -5 0.45 -1.71

The deal will see Carrick make $650,000 this season, and $850,000 in 2017/18, for a cap hit of $750,000, which at first glance appears to be stellar with room to become even more stellar. Carrick is not exempt from waivers or the expansion draft.

With his limited NHL experience, though, one shouldn’t expect the salary to be overly high. The 5’11 native of Orland Park, Illinois was originally drafted by the Capitals in the 5th round (137th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

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  • FlareKnight

    Good signing. Was a nice addition at the end of last season and heck of a playoff performance with the Marlies. Hope he has a great season.

    Winnik and his trades, the gift that keeps on giving.

  • MigBoron

    absolute steal. he has top 4 potential and if he’s a bottom pairing defenceman, that’s still excellent. he’s a strong 2 way, puck moving d-man who fits babcock’s system perfectly. he’d be an excellent bottom pairing defenceman with marincin in the future ?

  • MigBoron

    Good signing at relatively cheap $$$ . If he plays at the level and potential he’s shown should get a good long term contract with a nice raise next time around.

  • Gary Empey

    @ Jeff.

    You speculate Connor Carrick will be paired with Martin Marincin this year. I doubt whether Marincin can make this years team. He may even end up on waivers like Holland before his arbitration date of August 2.

    Barring a trade, Leafs top six are likely to be:

    Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Carrick, Roman Polak, Matt Hunwick. These six are all “in the house”.

    On the bubble for the seventh spot:

    Martin Marincin – Frank Corrado – a Marlies prospect/Junior prospect.

    • TGT23

      Considering how much they liked Marincin last season it’d be strange if he didn’t play over Hunwick.

      They like him as a defensive defenseman, analytics like him, I’d be shocked if they didn’t sign him and have him play.