Voorhees, NJ – As a rookie in the National Hockey League coming to his first professional training camp, Jeff Carter is already in quite a position.
When the London, Ontario native stepped on the ice for practice Wednesday at the Flyers Skate Zone, he had Peter Forsberg as his center, and Simon Gagne as a left wing. He is being put in a position to succeed by Ken Hitchcock, and with that, comes pressure.
It is a position that Carter embraces.
"There is a lot of pressure, I guess. It's something that I like," said Carter. I played in a lot of big game situations where there has been a lot of pressure, and I think I've done fairly well. It's a challenge that I'm looking forward too, for sure.
As Peter Forsberg gets up to speed after missing most of training camp with an injured right ankle, Carter has played in every preseason game so far but has yet to register a point. He has admittedly had his ups and downs throughout the exhibition season, but is still confident he can produce once the games count.
I think I've had moments where I've been pretty good and moments where I haven't been very good at all. It's something I need to work on, and I'm happy that it's just exhibition right now and I can turn things around.
Although Forsberg is doubtful for Thursday's preseason game against New Jersey, he is taking part in full practice sessions with the team. Even though his ankle is not yet at 100 percent, he still impresses the people around him – especially Carter.
"It's pretty much, when he's open, give him the puck and go to the net with your stick on the ice," he said. Most of the time he's going to get it to you. Some of the passes he threw out there today, I didn't even know the puck was coming and it just landed on my stick. It's pretty amazing.
While Carter is excited to begin his pro career on a line with an established superstar, Forsberg is also adapting to a new role of trying to help along a younger player at the start of his career. It is a role he is looking forward to playing.
"I don't mind it. It didn't ever really happen in Colorado. I played with the older guys there, but it's fun to play with him and try to help him out in the beginning of his career," said Forsberg. It's a great opportunity for me, too, to help him out a little bit.
As for Carter's proficiency on the ice…
I'm really surprised. Even as a young player, he's got a lot of skills and he's going to have a bright future in this league. He's a smart player and he knows the game, but I think he's going to fit in perfectly, he said.
Hitchcock is also getting a good look at the line combination of Forsberg, Carter and Gagne, and quickly describes it in one word.
Organized. It looks organized. That's the best way to describe it. It just seems like a good fit, but we would really like to see it in a game because when you put three smart, competitive players together, they just seem to read off of each other really well. They are always in good position on both ends of the rink. It looks like it has the makings of a very good line.
Hatcher Cleared to Play; Primeau Still Out Derian Hatcher could make his preseason debut during Thursday's game at the Wachovia Center, after being cleared to resume full activity by Flyers team physician Dr. Peter DeLuca on Wednesday afternoon.
The 6-4, 244-pound defenseman, who signed with the Flyers as a free agent on August 2, has been sidelined due to a strained left knee sustained Sept. 6 at the U.S. Olympic team orientation camp in Colorado. He began skating with the team on Monday.
Keith Primeau, who bruised his left shoulder in practice on Monday and missed Tuesday's preseason game, remained off of the ice. He will not play on Thursday.