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.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) July 22, 2016
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.
|2015-16||Hershey / Toronto||21||AHL||52||11||18||29||52||25||21.49|
|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.