CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Connor Carrick
Position: Right Defense
Age: 20 [turns 21 April 13]
Ht/Wt: 5-11, 185
Penalty minutes: 23
Average Ice Time: 15:58
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 3-year, $2.35 million contract [$636,667 cap hit in 2014-15]
Strengths: Despite his lack of size, Carrick is an excellent skater and a student of the game willing to be coached. His vision and first-pass ability is excellent and, if paired with a bigger, more physical defense partner, he has the potential to play an everyday role in the NHL.
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Weaknesses: There were times this season when Carrick was physically overmatched in the defensive zone, getting outmuscled in the corners and behind and in front of the net. He’ll need to spend extra time in the weight room this summer to better handle the Milan Lucics of the NHL.
Overall Performance: Carrick split the season between Hershey, where he recorded four assists, 15 penalty minutes and was a minus-3, Washington and the U.S. National Team that participated in the 2014 World Junior Championships, where he picked up three assists in five games and was a plus-7 in the Americans’ fifth-place finish. Despite playing in only 34 games he said he learned far more in his rookie NHL season than he would have playing another season of junior hockey with the Plymouth Whalers.
Memorable Moment: Two nights after being a surprise starter in front of family and friends on opening night in Chicago, Carrick scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 3 at VerizonCenter, busting out of the penalty box to catch a long, beautiful pass from Marcus Johansson and beat Calgary goalie Karri Ramo with a well-executed backhand-to-forehand deke. Afterward, while speaking with reporters, Carrick was the victim of a sneak attack by Alex Ovechkin, who waffled him with a shaving cream pie in the face.
Quotable: “I feel like I aged 10 years this year. I’m really excited to go home for the summer and take back what I learned this year and be much more ready for whatever next year brings. … There were definitely times that were overwhelming. You build your wealth of hockey knowledge every year you play and it was a great year of development for me.”
2014-15 Expectations: Carrick needs to play next season – if not in Washington then in Hershey -- if the Caps hope him to develop into a solid NHL defenseman. He can be effective if paired with a hard-nosed defenseman like John Erskine, provided Erskine is healthy enough to play a full season.