The Minnesota Wild surprised everyone yesterday and announced that Ryan Carter will be practicing with the team over the next couple of weeks in an effort possibly sign a contract by the March 1st trade deadline. Carter brings veteran knowhow and excellent work ethic which could be exactly what the Wild need to add at the deadline.
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Four months ago Ryan Carter‘s career looked to be over. He had been forced to sign a PTO with the Wild and would have to fight tooth and nail to get back the roster spot he once had only a few short months ago. Carter tried very hard and looked to be on his way with a goal in the opening preseason tilt, but after that he went cold and missed the last couple of games with an injury.
Then just before the final roster was announced he was let go from his tryout and it was disclosed that Carter was trying to play through a torn labrum in his shoulder. At the time the surgery was thought to be possibly career ending and the Wild were unable to take the risk of signing him, so Carter faced the fact that he would be without a team after 10 NHL seasons.
Carter tells the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo that at the time Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told him when he let him go “to get surgery, get healthy and depending where we both stand when I get healthy enough to play, we can go from there. He just said it’s not fair to me to play hurt and it’s not fair to the coach and team to not know if I can play through it.”
Well fast forward to today and we can see that White Bear’s favorite son Carter is recovered from his surgery and ready. Fletcher being good to his word has decided to bring carter back in to practice with the team to evaluate where he is at with a shot to be signed to the Wild roster for the stretch run. He was on the ice this morning at the X getting his bearings back and getting a good skate in with his teammates.
The Wild have till the March 1st trade deadline to sign Carter so that he can be included on the playoff roster per the rules in the NHL’s CBA. It could be a solid depth pick-up to sign Carter and makes a lot of sense as the Wild look to expand their options heading into the trade deadline.
If he’s signed and added to the roster after the trade deadline he can be on the roster with little effect, as the 23-man opening day limit goes away for the rest of the season. The only concern would be making room for his salary in the team’s cap structure.
At this point the Wild have very little salary cap room…$815,979 to be exact. The implications of that are the trade market will be tough as the Wild will need to make dollar-in dollar-out trades to stay under the cap. In plain English any player the Wild bring in via trade, they will have to trade a player back with almost the same salary cap hit as the player coming in.
Not to mention the rental market is assessed as weak this season. Lots of teams have not really come to the realization that they are sellers, and it seems that the players that are being shopped have higher cap hits that are harder to absorb.
So that’s why signing Carter could be an excellent way to get NHL tested depth into the Wild roster with little cap impact. Carter would likely be signed for league minimum which is $650,000 and the Wild have the cap space as is stands today to absorb that entire contract.
He’s still got a lot to offer that the Wild need. He’s a good penalty killer and can play durable minutes on the 3rd and 4th lines, and that’s what the Wild need. Their current lineup is scoring, so adding goals is not exactly the need right now. The need is less tangible and is really a need for an experienced player who will do all the other things the Wild need to keep the scorers fresh and able to do their jobs.
We’ve still got a lot of time left before we know if Carter is going to be able to play up to the level the Wild need him to. Still this move gives the team an option and that will ensure at deadline time if a trade can’t be made the Wild can still improve their team should they decide to go that way. Carter’s a fighter and he’ll do the best he can to make this team, let’s see if it’s enough.