Molinari: Here’s a Way Penguins Might Rejuvenate Jeff Carter (+)
The Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten a lot of production out of some of their oldest players this season.
Jeff Carter is not one of them.
While Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, all in their mid-30s, have performed well through most of the first 56 games, Carter’s contributions have been, to be charitable, limited.
Crosby and Malkin are their Nos. 1 and 2 scorers, respectively, and Letang is the top point-producer on their defense, despite missing about a third of the Penguins’ games because of injury.
Carter, meanwhile, has played mostly in the middle of a third line that has been ineffective, or worse, for much of the season. He has eight goals and 12 assists in 53 games to rank eighth in the team scoring race.
Of course, there’s a lot more to this game than accumulating points, and Carter has the team’s best rate of winning faceoffs, 58.7 percent. He also has gotten some work as a penalty-killer.
Regardless, he and his line have not performed to expectations, and while their work hardly is the only reason the Pittsburgh Penguins are sitting outside of a playoff position today, it definitely is one of them.
Now, it’s entirely possible that Carter is simply acting his age — after all, he’s 38 and has 1,223 regular-season NHL games on his resume, along with 133 more in the playoffs — and can’t realistically be expected to make a meaningful contribution before his contract expires after next season.
But perhaps the Penguins could consider doing something radical in an effort to invigorate Carter: