Ryan Carter’s comeback continues. After the report last week that Carter had begun practicing with the Minnesota Wild in an attempt to return to the NHL, he has taken another step toward that goal today by inking a professional tryout agreement with the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa. The Iowa Wild announced the deal today, and Carter is expected to see his first ice time of the 2016-17 season in their next two games.
It’s been a long, strange road for Carter to get back to the NHL, and it’s not over yet. The Minnesota native played for the Wild for the past two years, recording 25 points in 113 games in a bottom-six role. However, when his contract expired at the end of last season and he hit free agency this summer, he made the executive decision that he would either sign with his hometown team or hang up his skates for good. The Wild were unable to commit to a contract for the 33-year-old, but didn’t want to rule out a return for the hard-working forward who grew up in White Bear Lake and played college hockey for Minnesota State – Mankato. They decided to invite Carter to camp this fall, giving him a chance to earn a contract instead. However, he was released not long after the action began due to issues with a lingering shoulder injury. Carter underwent a procedure on a torn labrum in his right shoulder four months ago, and many expected that to be the end of his career. Carter was not ready to call it quits just yet though, and rehabbed and work his way back into game shape, before going to the Wild brass with hopes of rejoining the team.
He’s well on his way, now. After more than a week of practicing with the NHL Wild, this PTO gives Carter the chance to finally see some game action with the AHL Wild. If the coaches and executives like what they see, expect Carter’s hard work to pay off in a contract by the end of the month. As long as he is signed by March 1st, the NHL Trade Deadline, Carter will be eligible to play in the postseason for the West-leading Wild. With Tyler Graovac recently clearing waivers and being demoted to the AHL and the utter lack of production from Kurtis Gabriel and Zack Mitchell, the need for another reliable player on Minnesota’s fourth line is more apparent now than ever. Carter gives them an option that costs nothing in trade capital, is familiar with the team, and can be counted on for hard work and dedicated play.