Give Ryan Carter credit. Around this time last year, it seemed as though the veteran forward’s career was already over. Carter had been unable to secure a guaranteed contract for the 2016-17 season, but was working toward a new deal with the Minnesota Wild by way of a PTO. However, when a nagging shoulder injury – a torn labrum to be exact – ended his attempt, Carter decided that he needed to move forward with surgery and, at 33, did not know if he would play again. Yet, Carter underwent his procedure, rehabbed, and by mid-February, he was back skating with the Wild. Carter ended up playing in 18 games with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and was one of Minnesota’s “black aces” come playoff time, though he never did get to fully make his NHL return.
It took a lot of effort just to get close to a comeback in 2016-17 and another try just wasn’t in the cards for Carter this year. The Athletic’s Michael Russo was the first to report that the ten year veteran has decided to hang up his skates. The Minnesota native can rest easy in retirement, knowing that he got to play his final two NHL seasons with his hometown team and gave it all he had to return for a third. Along the way, the Minnesota State standout also suited up for the Anaheim Ducks from 2006 to 2011 and the New Jersey Devils from 2011 to 2014, with brief stops with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers in between.
A hard-working, two-way threat, Carter was known more as a defensive specialist best-suited for a bottom-six spot and key penalty killing role than he was a point-producers. Yet, Carter finished his career off strong with a career high 15 points with the Devils in 2012-13 and three more double-digit totals to close out his NHL tenure. Carter will also be remembered for a very strong postseason performance for New Jersey in 2012, nearly matching his regular season production as the team charged to a Stanley Cup final appearance. In total, Carter notched 41 goals and 52 assists in 473 NHL games. While his scoring was far from the pace he exhibited in his college days in Mankato, Carter was still able to provide consistent two-way play, work ethic, and character throughout an NHL career built off of solid bottom-six play.