VOORHEES, N.J. - Jeff Carter does it all. He kills penalties, plays on the power play, defends the opponent's top scorer and mixes in plenty of offence.
Considering his name came up in trade rumours quite a bit this season, the Philadelphia Flyers are lucky to still have him.
"We've been happy with Jeff all year," coach John Stevens said Friday. "Maybe at times he didn't score as consistently as perceived he should, but he's a very responsible defensive player. He plays in every situation possible. He's a very fit individual, so he's capable of playing a lot of minutes. He's a valuable part of the team."
Carter is a big reason why the Flyers are one victory away from reaching the second round of the NHL playoffs just one year after they finished with the worst record in the league. The 23-year-old forward had two goals and one assist in a 4-3 double-overtime victory over Washington on Thursday night. The Flyers lead the series 3-1 and can clinch on the road Saturday.
Carter's line - he centres between Mike Knuble and Scottie Upshall - accounted for three of the four goals in Game 4 while getting a bulk of ice time against Capitals star Alex Ovechkin's line.
"Everything is falling in place," Carter said.
Carter has three goals in the series. Only Danny Briere has more with five. Ovechkin, who had 65 goals in the regular season, has scored only the winner in the opener.
A first-round pick in the 2003 entry draft, Carter had 23 goals and 19 assists for 42 points in 81 games as a rookie in 2005-06. He had 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points last season when he missed 20 games due to injury. Despite all the trade rumours this season, Carter finished with 29 goals and 24 assists for 53 points.
When the Flyers lost All-Star centre Mike Richards to a hamstring injury in late February, Carter picked up the scoring slack. He had eight goals in the nine games Richards missed, helping the Flyers go 5-2-2 in that span.
"When Mike went down, Jeff stepped in and that had to be a huge confidence boost," Knuble said.
Carter is slated to become a restricted free agent after the season, meaning Philly would get compensation if he signed with another team. His contract status coupled with an unproductive stretch made him a logical choice for trade rumours, though the Flyers didn't really shop him around. They would've considered dealing Carter for a top-flight defenceman, especially had they signed Peter Forsberg. Once Forsberg went to Colorado, there was no chance Carter would go anywhere.
Good thing for the Flyers he's still here.