William Carrier Has Been Really Good For Vegas Golden Knights

Before clicking on this story, would you have known that William Carrier was fourth on the Vegas Golden Knights in goals above replacement? Neither did I, and in many ways the 57th overall pick from the 2013 draft is finding his own in the NHL. This season is Carrier’s 5th with the Golden Knights, and his 6th in the NHL. He’s appeared in 297 games, and his stat line of 32-36-68 is nothing special. Carrier’s averaged 9:54 a game throughout his career, but this year he’s up to 11:05 which is the most he’s played per game in a single season to date. There’s good reason for this bump, because good things happen when Carrier is on the ice.

Through 42 games, Carrier leads roster regulars with a 61.73 goals for percentage, is 4th with a 54.63 Corsi for percentage, and 2nd with a 57.22 expected goals for percentage. When Carrier has been on the ice, the Golden Knights have generated 3.23 goals per 60, and only conceded 2 goals per 60 at 5v5.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Carrier’s season to date using Evolving-Hockey’s player cards.

And here’s another look, this one courtesy of HockeyViz.com

The consistent thing here is that the Golden Knights are generating offense at evens when he’s on the ice, and although the team is slightly worse in conceding chances than when he’s off, overall he’s a net positive at +6%.

What makes Carrier even more valuable to the Golden Knights is his contract, which carries an annual cap hit of $1.4 million through the 2023-24 season per Cap Friendly. The team will face a cap crunch at some point with Jack Eichel now part of the active roster while Mark Stone and Alec Martinez remain on LTIR, but his cap hit isn’t part of the problem.

For the time being Carrier is a perfect fit at left wing on the fourth line centered by Brett Howden, another player having a career year, with Keegan Kolesar on the right flank. But considering the aforementioned cap crunch, could Carrier be someone who steps up in the event someone like Evgenii Dadonov ($5 million AAV) or Reilly Smith ($5 million AAV) were not on the team next season?

It is something worth considering, but I am not sure. Carrier was a 2nd round pick, but has never been a prolific offensive contributor. Although there have been flashes of his creativity and skill during his time in the league, like this moment from the bubble.

At the NHL level with the Golden Knights he’s played a style where he makes things happen, but isn’t often the one getting on the scoresheet with a goal or an assist. In the QMJHL he averaged 0.89 points per game in 227 games. In the AHL he posted a line of 23-33-56 in 127 games over 3 seasons which factors out to 0.44 points per game. Analytical speaking, Carrier strikes me as someone who, in a good year on the right line, could be a 40 point player or better. And on this stacked Golden Knights team, that would be more than enough.

That said, it is interesting to think about what ifs and maybes, but for the time being it is fair to recognize Carrier for what he’s done this season. As it stands, he’s on pace to finish with a line of 9-16-25 in 73 games, all of which would be career highs.

It remains to be seen if this is a one-year surge for Carrier, someone who has made the most of an increase in playing time due to other injuries, but even if that’s the case he deserves some credit for stepping up in a big way for the Golden Knights.

Stats via Cap Friendly, Evolving-Hockey, Elite Prospects, and HockeyViz.com unless otherwise noted.