For the first time since April of last year, Ryan Carter will attend an NHL practice. The Star Tribune reports that the former Minnesota Wild forward will skate with his former teammates today and is expected to continue working with the team through the remainder of the month. Carter played for the Wild for the past two years, recording 25 points in 113 games as a regular on the team’s checking line. However, when the Minnesota native hit free agency this summer, he decided he would sign with his hometown team or not at all. Unable to commit to a contract for the 33-year-old, Minnesota invited Carter to camp this fall, but he was released due to issues with a lingering shoulder injury. Carter underwent a procedure on a torn labrum in his right shoulder four months ago, and is just now returning to full strength.
With experience not only playing with much of the current roster, but also with 46 playoff games under his belt, including two last spring, the Wild’s interest in reuniting with Carter makes sense. Although they have been one of the most dominant teams in the NHL this season, Minnesota is not without fault and a gritty veteran is on their wish list this Trade Deadline season. Rather than use up valuable picks and prospects to acquire such a player, they have the option of simply giving Carter a cheap pro-rated deal for the rest of the season. As long as the Wild make the signing official prior to March 1st, Carter will be eligible to play in the postseason.
If he truly is back at full strength, Carter would likely present an upgrade to the Wild’s current group of energy liners like Jordan Schroeder, Kurtis Gabriel, and Tyler Graovac. Carter is a veteran of 473 career regular seasons games, during which he has scored 41 goals and added 52 assists. He’s a physical player who knows how to check and win battles along the boards, and he’s also above average at the face-off dot. More than anything, what makes Carter so appealing to Minnesota at this point in the season is his playoff success. The journeyman grinder won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and returned to the final in 2012 with the New Jersey, adding five goals for the Devils along the way. A return to the Wild lineup for a local guy who has had to fight his way back into the fold would be quite a story, and will be something to watch for over the next month.