Connor Carrick doesn’t have to worry about his arbitration hearing later this month. He has re-signed with the New Jersey Devils, inking a two-year contract that will carry a $1.5MM average annual value. Carrick will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the deal.
Carrick has had a rough career so far, never staying in one place for very long. Originally selected in the fifth round by the Washington Capitals, he exploded in the OHL following his 2012 draft and immediately became known as a legitimate NHL prospect. It took him almost no time to reach the highest level, suiting up 34 times in 2013-14 as a teenager (he actually turned 20 on the day of his final game that season). That didn’t mean his journey had ended though, as Carrick was back in the AHL for the majority of the next two seasons before being flipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade for Daniel Winnik in 2016. Showing promise once again he played 130 games for the Maple Leafs before being sent south to the Dallas Stars for a conditional seventh-round pick when there wasn’t enough room on the roster. Dallas gave him only 14 games before flipping him again at the deadline to the Devils for Ben Lovejoy.
Now finally he may have found a home. Playing in 20 games down the stretch for New Jersey, Carrick averaged nearly 20 minutes a night and scored seven points. This contract represents a bigger commitment than any team had made to him previously, and likely means he is a favorite for the third-pairing role behind P.K. Subban and Damon Severson. That’s not a bad place to be in for a 25-year old with good possession stats and some interesting offensive upside.
Where his role on the team ultimately lies however still might be dependent on the other two restricted free agent defensemen the Devils have to sign. Mirco Mueller and Will Butcher both filed for salary arbitration and have hearings scheduled for a few weeks from now. With Andy Greene and Sami Vatanen both unrestricted free agents next summer, one-year arbitration settlements for Mueller and Butcher could mean the Devils have a lot of decisions coming in a year’s time. That uncertainty may be exactly why Carrick and the Devils wanted a two-year term, guaranteeing he’d be under contract and not needing another negotiation in an extremely busy 2020.