Projecting Carrier’s role in 2020-21
As with most things at the moment, I write this not exactly knowing when or if hockey will return this year.
A comeback for the NHL at some point this summer could result in the 2020-21 season being impacted, but we’ll go off the assumption that there will be a full 82-game schedule next year.
So, with that in mind, what role will William Carrier take on for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2020-21?
There are certain intangibles to keep in mind when considering this question, including who will be coming back for the Golden Knights next year.
Chandler Stephenson, Nick Cousins, Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek are all pending free agents this off-season, although it has been reported that Reaves is on the cusp of re-signing with the Knights.
Taking Reaves out of the equation, the Knights will have less than $7 million to try and re-sign six pending free agents in total, including goalie Robin Lehner who is likely to walk in free agency.
Should that be the case, then the Golden Knights will need to sign a new backup goalie which means that there is less cash on the table to fill out the rest of the roster.
Stephenson is almost a lock to re-sign in Sin City given the immediate impact he made with the Knights, 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 41 games, while Cousins is a useful depth player at the right price.
Nosek, Jon Merril and Deryk Engelland are all likely to leave in the summer, with the latter expected to retire, but that still won’t leave the Golden Knights with a boatload of cap space to fill out the rest of the roster.
As a result, there could be scope for Carrier to nail down a bigger role throughout Training Camp in what will be Head Coach Peter DeBoer’s first full year with the franchise.
Stephenson can be used up and down the lineup but is most effective in a bottom-six role, while Carrier has proved that he has the skills and the offensive instinct to play higher up if needed.
While he’s likely to start the 2020-21 season on the fourth-line with Reaves given their effectiveness and the vital roles they play, Carrier is more than capable of slotting up on the third and maybe even the second-line if the Golden Knights need an added offensive punch.
His lethal mix of speed, elite vision and incredible strength makes the 25-year-old a formidable opponent, and he showed in 2019-20 that he can create high-danger chances for his teammates.
Also, there is every chance that Carrier could play a bigger role on special teams for Vegas throughout the 2020-21 season.
He has the offensive instincts to be able to slot in on the second power play unit, while his speed and strength makes him an ideal penalty killer and shorthanded goal specialist.
The Knights ranked a lowly 27th on the PK in the NHL (76.6), so improving that unit will no doubt be a priority in the off-season and Carrier could play a part in that mission.
Overall, William Carrier is one of the most effective bottom-line grinders in the NHL but he has the skill set and the talent to morph into a whole lot more for the Vegas Golden Knights, and we could start to see that transformation in 2020-21.