The rugged winger scored a career-best 19 points in his fourth NHL season.
In the 2019-20 Player Review series, we revisit and evaluate the individual performances of Vegas Golden Knights players from last year’s regular season and extended playoff format. NOTE: Only skaters who played in at least 20 games will be included.
When Vegas Golden Knights fans think of William Carrier, they may think back to his notable physical presence in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, particularly in the first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings. They may think about his physical play in general, and about the fact that he’s quite a good skater for a fourth-line player. But Carrier proved once again last season that he is much, much more than a pure grinder.
Season in review
Carrier was one goal shy of tying his career high (8), which he set in 2018-19. However, before the season was cut short, he still managed to shatter several of his personal records, including assists (12) and points (19). Prior to last season, Carrier’s best assist total as a Knight was two, and he more than doubled his previous career high in points (9).
Eleven of his 12 assists were primary assists, which was a big step for Carrier after having amassed just two in his first two years in Vegas.
Another positive sign was the fact that Carrier suited up for all 71 regular-season games and all 20 postseason games after having played a combined 91 regular-season games over the previous two seasons.
Carrier’s physical play is a huge part of his game. He’s a top energy guy for Vegas, and it’s no wonder Pete DeBoer has him on the ice to start every period.
Among skaters who played a minimum of 500 minutes, Carrier finished sixth in the NHL in total hits (213) and third in the league in hits per 60 at 5-on-5 (18.38), trailing only linemate Ryan Reaves and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders.
But Carrier is not just a bruiser, and some of his numbers are rather surprising, particularly given his fourth-line role.
Carrier continues to excel on a rate basis.
For example, among players who played at least 500 minutes, Carrier finished 10th in the league in individual high-danger Corsi per 60 (5.25) at 5-on-5, a mark good enough to lead all Golden Knights skaters.
As for the Knights, his 14.53 high-danger Corsi per 60 was good for second overall behind only Mark Stone, and he finished sixth among Knights skaters (min. 20 games) with a high-danger Corsi of 59.07 percent, fourth in high-danger goals per 60 (1.84), seventh in HDCF% (53.85), fifth in individual Corsi per 60 (13.65) and sixth in individual scoring chances per 60 (8.93).
He’ll never lead Vegas in scoring, but Carrier has been a steady contributor offensively given his ice time. It’s easy to forget that he was a second-round draft pick (No. 57 overall) back in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, but it helps explain why his offensive abilities are starting to break through.
He spent the first few seasons of his career solidifying a spot for himself in the NHL as a grinder, but he’s steadily shown that he has more up his sleeve. Vegas recognized that this season and rewarded Carrier with a four-year contract extension carrying an AAV of $1.4 million.
Carrier didn’t disappoint, going on to have a solid postseason as well.
The need for physical play is magnified in playoff hockey, so Carrier was ready to step up. His hits-per-60 rate climbed to 29.52, good for second on the team behind only Reaves.
However, Carrier was also able to find the scoresheet, scoring his first career playoff points with two goals and an assist. While that’s nothing to write home about, 12 Knights skaters who played in at least 17 games were held to three or less goals.
At 5-on-5, Carrier ranked sixth among Knights skaters who played at least 10 postseason games in goals per 60 (0.68), sixth in individual expected goals per 60 (0.78), eighth in individual scoring chances per 60 (7.88) and sixth in individual high-danger Corsi per 60 (4.11). He ranked third in goal share (63.64 percent), seventh in expected goal share (62.41 percent), third in high-danger Corsi (55.10 percent) and fourth in high-danger goal share (57.14 percent).
For a fourth-line player who averaged a team-low 8:50 of ice time per game, that’s pretty impressive.
Carrier potted seven goals in 2019-20, many of which came against division rivals or difficult opponents, including San Jose, Calgary, Chicago, St. Louis, Colorado and Tampa Bay.
One of the nicer goals was a backhand shot in an October contest against Calgary. Carrier received a pass from behind the net and roofed it top shelf. He tallied two points in that game for his only multi-point game of the season.
Another of Carrier’s goals demonstrates that his shot is above-average for a fourth-liner. He may have been wide open on the play, but it’s still a nice goal from the winger.
Carrier will remain a fixture on Vegas’ fourth line, which is sure to continue to have a significant role under DeBoer. Carrier’s four-year, $5.6 million deal kicks in this season and will keep him in Vegas through the 2023-24 season. He is one of eight skaters signed beyond the next three seasons, and it’s clear Vegas has high hopes for the 26-year-old, who could continue to see growth in his offensive game. Carrier is not a complicated player, but he’ll continue to be a key member of this team who contributes at both ends of the ice, even if some of his work goes unrecognized.