Senators Player Profile: Matt Carkner

This is the eleventh in a series of profiles on each player for the Ottawa Senators.

Matt Carkner, D, Contract: 0.7/12 (UFA)
FA 2007 (Murray), 6’4, Shoots R, YOB 1980, Winchester, Ont
2008-09 AHL 67-3-18-21 +3 210pim (14 fights)
2009-10 81-2-9-11 190pim Even (24 fights) TOI 16:54 BkS 125 Hits 127
2010-11 50-1-6-7 136pim Even (12 fights) TOI 14:53 BkS 59 Hits 71

Originally a Montreal draft pick (2-58/99), Carkner was among Bryan Murray’s first free agent signings (July 3, 2007, http://www.oursportscentral.com/services/releases/?id=3500163).  For his entire junior career in Peterborough and throughout his first four seasons in the AHL Carkner was primarily a fighter and shutdown defenceman.  In his final year in the San Jose system (2005-06), Carkner broke out offensively in the AHL (69-10-20-30).  It earned him his first NHL call-up and then landed him a contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton where he continued to put up good numbers (75-6-24-30).  Murray signed Carkner to a two-year, two-way contract.

Carkner finished his first year in Binghamton tied for second in points for defenceman as well as second in penalty minutes and fighting majors on the team (behind Jeremy Yablonski).  The following season, at Carkner’s suggestion, he attempted to make the team playing as a winger.  The attempt failed, but in his one call-up that season he played on the wing.

Heading into the 2009-10 season, Carkner faced a crowded blueline that included super rookie Erik Karlsson.  He surprised many by making the team out of camp (he goes unmentioned here http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Preview-Introducing-the-2009-10-Ottawa-Senators?urn=nhl-190908) and was able to play an important role on the team (including an OT winner against Pittsburgh in the playoffs).  It earned him a two-year, one-way contract (www.ottawasun.com/sports/hockey/2009/ 10/20/11468661.html).

This past season the blueline was rarely healthy but when it was Carkner was occasionally scratched by Cory Clouston (again in this season preview he goes unmentioned, http://espn.go.com/nhl/preview2010/team/_/name/ott), with his minutes dropping considerably towards the end of his season.  Injuries also caught up to Carkner, whose last game was in late February.

So what should be expected of Carkner going into the final year of his contract?  He’ll continue to play less minutes and, if the club carries seven defenceman, I suspect he’ll be rotated with Brian Lee and (depending on how he plays) David Rundblad.  Carkner is one of the best heavyweight fighters in the league, but with more fighters on the team (UFA Zenon Konopka as well a full season from Zack Smith) he won’t be required to drop the gloves as often.  I would guess Carkner will slide in under 10 points and produce at least 1 goal.

Carkner’s OT goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkTf5biPUeM
A couple of Carkner’s fights: http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/101127 and http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/100289

Next up is Milan Michalek.