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A look into why Oilers’ Sam Carrick is a subtly significant piece for the playoff run

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Photo credit:© Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Panganiban
3 months ago
When the Edmonton Oilers made the trade with the Anaheim Ducks before the deadline, the most significant piece coming back was Adam Henrique, with Sam Carrick being the lesser-known player who also came Edmonton’s way. Henrique has only recorded one assist so far in his tenure with the Oilers, but I have no doubt he’s going to play a big role down the stretch and into the playoffs as he’s shown to be a responsible centerman.
As for Carrick, who bounced around in the AHL before becoming an NHL regular during the 2021-22 season with the Ducks, he scored a big goal — his first as an Oiler — against the Colorado Avalanche last game. While the 31-year-old wasn’t brought in to be a goal scorer, his versatility truly makes him an under-the-radar asset for the team. Let’s dive into what makes him unique and what he brings to the table for the playoff run.
At 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, he may not be the biggest player, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in bite. That said, Kent French, host of Anaheim Ducks Live, who has watched Carrick play many times, spoke of the forward’s toughness on the “Lowdown with Lowetide” show after the trade happened, saying:
“I don’t think he gets enough credit for his toughness based on his size. He’s not the biggest guy on the ice, but he will fight anybody and I know when you get into the postseason, fighting is certainly diminished, but he adds that toughness. He’ll hit anybody. He certainly walks that line, that edge, of agitator/toughness and skill.”
The Oilers have lacked toughness in the bottom six since Klim Kostin left, and Carrick’s combination of toughness, along with his other intangibles, will be a crucial asset in the postseason. For example, Evander Kane ended up in the penalty box in Game 2 of last year’s playoffs for punching Vegas Golden Knights’ Keegan Kolesar, and Darnell Nurse fought Nicolas Hague in Game 4, which ultimately led to a questionable suspension for Game 5.
Oilers’ fans appreciate the passion when key players like Kane and Nurse fight, but ultimately they’re more valuable on the ice than in the penalty box. Carrick understands his role in limited minutes and also the reasons why Edmonton brought him into the mix. Tensions will certainly rise in the heat of a playoff battle and instead of prominent Oilers’ players being penalized for dropping the gloves, Carrick can step up and handle those moments, taking the five minutes for fighting, considering his limited ice time as it is. Additionally, according to hockeyfights.com, Carrick has been in 10 NHL fights, including one ironically against Vegas’ Kolesar.
Moreover, we’ve seen his courage and grit in the first game he played in an Oilers uniform against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Edmonton was down by two goals, and in an attempt to spark his team, Carrick challenged a tough customer in Mathieu Olivier. While Olivier earned the takedown, Carrick landed some very solid punches.

Ducks Started Games With Carrick to Set the Tone

Additionally, in four games played with the Oilers, the Markham, ON native has thrown eight hits despite averaging just over nine minutes a game, showing his willingness to create energy with his limited ice time. On that note, French also mentioned Carrick’s ability to spark momentum for his team, saying:
“At times this season [the Ducks] have started the game with our fourth line with Sam Carrick and again, he can center, he can play the wing, he’s a natural center, but he started the game a lot because, you use that word, the energy word — he certainly brings energy when he’s on a line with other people. He brings energy.”
Over the last two games, Carrick has centered the fourth line in between Corey Perry and Mattias Janmark. It remains to be seen if that trio will be a line heading into the playoffs, but if that’s the case, among the three of them, the Oilers fourth line will finally have somewhat of an identity, something that has been lacking for a while.
They can play physically, agitate and with the instigating sensei, Perry, who recently reached 900 career points, and in combination with Carrick’s 11-goal pace, they’ll also be able to contribute on the scoresheet. That said, if the Oilers want to set the tone physically, they can send that line out to start the game, as Carrick has done the job before and understands its effectiveness.
However, despite an emphasis on Carrick’s physicality and toughness, let’s not overlook his skill set. He’s shown to be defensively responsible, and the fact that he’s a right-handed shot is also valuable. In the last four games, he’s gone 23-12 in the faceoff circle, including going 8-0 against the Washington Capitals. This means the Oilers have another dependable faceoff man, along with Derek Ryan, to take key draws on their strong side, on the right. As well, French also spoke of the centerman’s defensive game, mentioning:
“He plays a 200-foot game. He’s coming back, he comes back, he’s backchecking and he’s certainly a 200-foot player. And I think that’s certainly important especially when you’re out there on a fourth-line role. But it’s the hits, the checks, all the things you don’t get a lot of credit for.”
Considering everything, Carrick appears to be an underrated component of the deal with the Ducks and projects to be a sneaky good addition. He’s tough, physical and a defensively responsible centerman whose name will appear on the scoresheet from time to time, and he might quietly play a key role in the Oilers’ quest for a Stanley Cup.

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