You could say that Ryan Carter is pretty much one of those dependable guys. Not spectacular on the scoresheet, but reliable in many other facets.The native of White Bear Lake, Minn. played two full seasons of junior hockey with Green Bay (USHL), tallying 41 goals and 81 points in two seasons, and then potted 34 goals and 58 points in two years at Minnesota State (WCHA) before turning pro in 2006-07 with Portland (AHL). A free agent, he made his NHL debut with Anaheim that same year, playing in four games as the Ducks won their first Stanley Cup.
He played two more non-descript years in Anaheim before going first to Carolina and then to Florida, who waived him just seven games into this season. He was then tabbed by New Jersey, which was coming off its first playoff-less campaign since 1996, and was now guided by his former Panthers coach, Pete DeBoer.
Fast forward ahead seven months, and Carter and his current company are on the cusp of the Devils’ fourth-ever Stanley Cup title, after dispatching the east’s top seed, the New York Rangers, in six games in the Eastern Conference final. Carter scored three goals in that series, including the tying tally in Game 2, the game-winner in Game 5, and the game-opening score in Game 6.
His goal in Game 5 snapped a 3-3 tie with 4:24 remaining in regulation at Madison Square Garden, and also gave New Jersey a 3-2 series lead over its cross-river rivals it would not relinquish.
“(Stephen) Gio(nta) scooped the puck up, took a look and made a fantastic pass to me," said Carter afterwards to CBS Sports. "All I had to (do) was redirect it.”Carter tallied only four goals and four assists for eight points in 65 regular-season outings with the Devils, and also racked up 84 penalty minutes. It’s in the playoffs, though, that he has really taken off, connecting for four goals and two assists in 17 postseason contests while forming a solid two-way fourth line with Gionta and Steve Bernier.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even drafted, and now has his second opportunity in five years to add his name to hockey's holy grail.