2014 Season Review: Jeff Carter

Harry How

dCorsi Chart (from @Mimicohero)

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(Be careful about the 2011-12 number. I'm not sure if dCorsi can properly account for an in-season team change.)

Positives

Jeff Carter was a very good possession player in 2013-14. He spent about 40 percent of his time on Kopitar's wing and did well (59.6 Corsi%). His results away from Kopitar don't seem exceptional (54.8%), but are actually quite good because when not with Kopitar, Carter was often with LA's weaker possession forwards (a lot of time with Mike Richards, very little with Justin Williams). Carter played at least 50 5v5 minutes with 8 forwards not named Kopitar; 6 of those 8 had better possession numbers with Carter than without him.

Carter scored .897 goals/60 at 5v5,  63rd in the league and 2nd on the Kings. He managed that despite shooting just 7.82% at 5v5, short of his career average (9.83%.) Carter was productive even with mediocre shooting luck because he attempted 5v5 shots at the 7th highest rate in the league. Check out his shot rate by year (from Hockey Analysis):


Jeff Carter 5v5 S/60, 2009-2014

5v5 S/60 NHL Rank
2009-10 12.01 7
2010-11 12.98 1
2011-12 9.38 35
2012-13 9.14 40
2013-14 11.47 7

It's encouraging that his shot rates have jumped back up to elite levels after two years of decline.

Carter's zone entries (tabulated by our very own Nick Chapin; read his excellent summary here) have some positives. His 22.17 entries/60 is fairly high and shows an active player in the neutral zone. His entries were also of particularly high quality, as his .79 shots per carry in ranks 3rd among Kings forwards. That's more evidence of his excellent shot generation abilities.

I would have given Carter the Conn Smythe. He was the driving force behind the tremendous postseason success of the 70s line. Carter, Toffoli, and Pearson combined to post the best possession numbers on the team and were extremely productive even with relatively normal puck luck.

Negatives

Not a ton to worry about here. Carter didn't replicate his insane goalscoring of 2012-13, but he was never going to (he shot over 16% at 5v5 that year). I actually think his 2013-14 is more promising than his 2012-13, given the uptick in shot rate. More goals should come next year.

Carter only controlled 48.27% of his entries. That's 7th among Kings forwards, so not a terrible number. But it's below the league average of 50% and seems low for such a fast and skilled player. Only one skilled forward on the Kings (Dustin Brown) had a higher percentage of controlled entry attempts fail than Carter, who was unsuccessful 21.6% of the time. That means Carter was probably more willing than most to take risks and attempt controlled entries while under pressure. It's strange that a player as talented as Carter, playing fairly aggressively, had a pretty average carry-in %. Maybe Carter was unlucky, or just didn't do a great job of picking his spots this year.

I should clarify that a high failed entry % is not necessarily a bad thing in a skilled forward. Current research suggests turning the puck over while attempting a carry-in produces results only slightly worse than dumping the puck in. Since controlled entries are very beneficial if successful and not that harmful if failed, players should try for them aggressively. If a skilled player's failed entry % is really low, that player is likely playing too conservatively and could help his team out by attempting riskier entries, even though many of them will fail. So I don't mind that Carter is taking risks.

Highlight

Hilarious. The Bob Miller call on this one is incredible, by the way.

Roman Emperor Comparable: Augustus

Augustus (ruled 27 BC-14 AD) was the first Roman Emperor and, by the reckoning of most modern historians, the best one. Coming into power after decades of chaotic civil war, Augustus firmly established a system of one-man rule that would last half a millennium. He paved the way for the Pax Romana, a 200 year period during which Roman citizens enjoyed, for the most part, peace, good governance, and rising prosperity. He sponsored the poets Virgil and Horace, whose works are usually regarded as the very best of Roman literature. Near the end of his life Augustus boasted that he had found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble, and he had a point.

Likewise, Jeff Carter's arrival in Los Angeles marked the beginning of a golden age. In the 44 years before he arrived, the Kings made it past the second round once. With Carter, they are three for three. Carter is obviously not the sole driving force behind all this, but he is a major reason why right now is the best time to be a Kings fan there has ever been.

It's worth noting that Augustus' achievements did not come without cost. His rise to power was a brutal process, during which he ruthlessly executed many political opponents. Jeff Carter has a similar story, as he only arrived in LA after leaving the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise a smoldering ruin. But as with Augustus, the end results have been so dazzling that no one worries much about the less appealing backstory.

Going Forward

Carter is aging excellently so far. He's been a major bargain at a $5.27 million cap hit and probably will be for several years to come. Carter shifted from wing to center late last year, but no one is really sure where he'll start off 2014-15. Like most people who are not Blackhawks fans, I'd love to see the Pearson-Carter-Toffoli line continue.

Grade

An easy A for me.  Carter had a very good regular season and was even better in the playoffs. Disagree? Then get the fuck out make your case in the comments.

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