Vegas Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25: William Carrier bashes his way into the Top-10

The 24-year-old bruiser has a knack for getting to the high-danger areas, but converting them is another matter.

Knights On Ice’s 2019-20 preseason Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the top 25 players under the age of 25 currently in Vegas’ system. Six Knights On Ice writers created their own Top 25 Under 25 ballots. Each individual writer’s ballot was then used to generate a composite score that forms the final ballot.

With all due respect to William Karlsson, the “Wild Bill” moniker may best suit Mr. Carrier, who threw 276 hits last season despite playing in just two-thirds of his team’s games. Prorate it to a full season, and the 24-year-old would set the record for most hits in a season since the statistic was reliably tracked (2007-08 to the present).

No. 9: William Carrier
Position: LW
Age: 24 (December 20, 1994)
Size: 6-foot-2, 212 pounds
Nationality: Canadian

If it feels strange to lead off an article about our pick for the ninth-best youngster in the Vegas system by talking about hits, you are correct. It’s Carrier’s marquee ability: causing a ruckus. But although the hits leaderboard is loaded with players that are a net negative on their teams — Lawson Crouse, Jack Johnson, Matt Martin all ranked in the top-20 last season — Carrier broke this mold. As expected, it was by force. You’d have to scroll down to the 100th-ranked player in hits, Brendan Gallagher, to find a player with a better even-strength CF% than William Carrier.

Carrier used this physicality most notably in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he was largely responsible for many of the Los Angeles Kings completely losing their heads on the ice, including Drew Doughty, who nearly tried to take Carrier’s own noggin off. Doughty received a suspension for the hit, the end result of Carrier being wildly pesky and physical, a factor that likely helped Vegas take Game 2 in overtime. Hit totals are often inflated in the playoffs, especially at home, but 21 hits in 22:05 of ice time is unheard of.

But Carrier’s game is more than hits and driving play. The LaSalle, QC native showed an uptick in goal-scoring this past season, and although eight tallies may seem paltry, he was actually quite good on a rate basis:

Vegas Forwards, 2018-19 (min. 200 minutes)

PlayerGoals/60Shots/60ixG/60iHDCF/60Rebounds Created/60Hits/60
Brandon Pirri1.410.080.924.340.784.34
Max Pacioretty1.159.520.833.91.347.41
Cody Eakin1.075.890.692.380.714.88
Alex Tuch0.978.650.793.591.425.01
Jonathan Marchessault0.910.330.93.320.714.26
William Carrier0.99.590.986.651.5831.12
Mark Stone0.89100.864.890.674.66
Paul Stastny0.887.611.055.291.362.64
Reilly Smith0.797.60.753.350.341.82
William Karlsson0.796.040.653.240.792.06
Oscar Lindberg0.619.720.893.641.529.72
Tomas Nosek0.68.70.915.631.365.71
Erik Haula0.575.970.794.551.142.56
Ryan Reaves0.446.140.674.370.8121.99
Ryan Carpenter0.327.670.774.030.479.57
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare0.37.430.74.091.364.93

In fact, if you look at his individual high-danger Corsi, it’s a wonder he doesn’t score more.

Now, the bad news. Carrier is anything but a playmaker. With just three primary assists in 137 career NHL games (regular season and playoffs), Carrier does not do too much to elevate those around him, his strong CF% notwithstanding. Playoff hit machine? Sure. Offensive black hole? Yeah, that too. The team’s best marks on high danger attempts, yet he connects on under 10 percent (under 2 percent the year before)? That signals the lack of NHL-caliber hands.

Carrier sits at No. 9 on our list primarily because he is more or less a known commodity. He can cut it at the NHL level, which we cannot yet say of someone like Nicolas Roy. Having said that, his ceiling is quite low, and his next time cracking double digit points will be his first. Still, when healthy, he often found his way into the lineup over players with more legitimate scoring bonafides (I’m looking at you, Brandon Pirri).

As far as next year is concerned, he is on the cusp of a starting role. With five of eight wings  set — Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch are slam-dunks — there are quite a few players to contend for the other spots. Carrier, Pirri, Tomas Nosek, Ryan Reaves, Valentin Zykov, and even Cody Glass are all in the running as of today.

If head coach Gerard Gallant fancies bruisers, then Carrier could see the ice a bunch, opposite Ryan Reaves. If not, it would be hard to see this player being a significant factor for the 2019-20 Golden Knights.

Previously in Vegas Golden Knights Preseason 2019 Top 25 Under 25: