Last season, the Los Angeles Kings finally broke a long drought of not having their players recognized at the NHL Awards. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty each took home hardware, but as usual, no one from Los Angeles had a sniff at the night’s biggest honor: the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league’s Most Valuable Player. In fairness, no LA skater has put together the kind of season which would warrant such recognition in quite some time.
Enter Jeff Carter. If #77 can sustain his level of play for two more months, he won’t just be the Kings’ most valuable player; he’ll be one of the most valuable in the entire league. And at this point, he certainly is. Here are 77 reasons why Carter is deserving of MVP consideration.
1: Jeff Carter has 29 goals, which is second-best in the NHL behind only perennial Hart nominee Sidney Crosby.
2: The last King to finish in the top ten in goals in a season (other than Carter in the lockout-shortened 2013) was Ziggy Palffy, who tied for 8th in 2002-03.
3: The last King to finish in the top five in goals in a season was Luc Robitaille in 1992-93.
4: The last King to finish in the top three in goals in a season was Bernie Nicholls in 1988-89.
5: Carter is on pace to do all of the above.
6: Carter has 20.5% of his team’s goals this season; not surprisingly, that leads the NHL, as no one else has more than 18% of their team’s tally.
8: It’s been nine years since a player finished in the top five in the NHL in goals while playing for a team which was bottom-five in scoring, and Carter’s on pace to do that too.
9: Carter isn’t a goals-only man either; he has 22 assists, of which 15 are primary (that is, first) assists.
10: Carter leads the Kings in primary assists, by the way.
11: He is one of only three players in the NHL (along with Tyler Seguin and Bo Horvat) to lead his team in both goals and primary assists.
12: Carter is fourth in the NHL in primary points behind Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Connor McDavid.
13: Carter has spent more than 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time with thirteen skaters on the Kings, and twelve of them have a better on-ice goals-for rate (per 60) with Carter than they do without him.
14: Carter has spent more than 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time with thirteen skaters on the Kings, and eleven of them have a better on-ice goals-for percentage with Carter than they do without him.
15: Among trios that have played more than 110 minutes (or two minutes per game) together at 5v5, Carter’s line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson has the second-best Corsi For% (62.6%) in the NHL.
16: Among trios that have played more than 110 minutes together at 5v5, Carter’s line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson has the seventh-best Scoring Chance For% (68.3%) in the NHL.
17: Among trios that have played more than 110 minutes together at 5v5, Carter’s line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson has the fourth-best Expected Goals For% (65.3%) in the NHL.
18: Carter has nine game-winning goals this season. No one else has more than seven.
19: Carter has four goals in three-on-three overtime, which leads the NHL.
20: Jeff Carter has seven multi-goal games this season, tying him with Brad Marchand for the league lead.
21: Jeff Carter has 16 multi-point games this season, fifth-best in the NHL.
22: He’s scored from everywhere, but he’s not just throwing them on net from a distance and hoping they go in.
Jeff Carter, the only top 5 goal scorer who hasn't scored from beyond the circles. Average shot distance is 29 feet, average goal is 16. pic.twitter.com/CCNQsU3398— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) February 16, 2017
23. His 2016-17 output is as much about consistency as it is about momentary excellence
#Pens Phil Kessel joins Alex Ovechkin & Jeff Carter as the only players with 20+ goals in all 9 seasons since the start of 2008-09.— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 15, 2017
24. And this year, his points (not just in goals) have taken on much greater importance.
A look at what % of their team's goals each player is directly responsible for. Not necessarily surprising, but still nice to contextualize. pic.twitter.com/SPZunGYE93— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) February 14, 2017
25. He hasn’t gone more than three games without a point all year, and he’s only gone three games without a point twice.
26. He hasn’t gone more than four games without a goal all year, and he’s only gone four games without a goal twice.
27. He’s top-five in the league in points on the road, and tied for the league lead in goals on the road.
28. Carter is on pace to be the first non-Anze-Kopitar 75-point scorer for LA in 10 years.
29. Carter is on pace to be the first 40-goal scorer for LA in 23 years.
30. Look, he’s just really, really good at scoring goals on a team that is generally really, really mediocre at scoring goals.
31-59: Just watch all 29 of Jeff Carter’s goals and see how easy he makes it look.
60: This photo.
61: This photo.
62: This photo.
63: Carter is on pace for his second-best faceoff percentage ever.
64: Carter is on pace for his second-best hit total ever.
65: Carter is on pace for his second-best goals/points total ever.
66: The best totals for those last three facts all occurred in different seasons, but somehow, he’s put them together this year.
67: Tanner Pearson is having the second-best goalscoring season on the Los Angeles Kings, and he is 11 goals behind Jeff Carter.
68: Of Pearson’s 18 goals, 14 have come at 5-on-5; Carter has been on the ice for 12 of them.
69: Carter has done all of this in a season where Anze Kopitar is on pace for his lowest full-season goal and point totals ever.
70: Carter has done all of this in a season where two of the three other biggest goal threats have missed 19 and 23 games, respectively.
71: Carter has done all of this in a season where the Los Angeles Kings are squarely on the playoff bubble, seemingly destined to finish in either 8th or 9th in the West.
72: In two separate seasons where he finished second in the NHL in goals, he received one second-place vote, two fourth-place votes, and seven fifth-place votes combined.
73: No King has finished in the top five of the Hart voting since Jonathan Quick in 2012.
74: No Kings skater has finished in the top five of the Hart voting since Wayne Gretzky in 1991.
75: Since then, Quick (1 in 2012) and Kopitar (1 in 2016) are the only Kings to earn even a single first-place MVP vote.
76: Even with Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid presumably battling for top honors, there’s room for a King in the top three of the MVP vote.
77: And no King has been more important this season than Jeff Carter.