SenShot Report Card: Matt Carkner

Over the next month, SenShot will be doing off-season report cards for all your Ottawa Senators. Let’s see each player’s grade for the 2010-2011 season.

The Champ is here!!!

Sens enforcer Matt Carkner  played his second full season in the NHL as he completed the first year of his two year, one-way contract with Ottawa. After a great rookie campaign last season which saw him come out of nowhere and earn a spot on the blueline, Carkner continued his strong defensive play.

Busting on to the scene last season, Carkner won over Sens Army with his fists. Dropping the mitts 24 times last season, Carkner proved himself to be one of the heavy hitters in the league. In an epic battle with Toronto Maple Leafs goon Colton Orr last season, Carkner single handily brought life back into the Battle of Ontario.

While providing grit, Carkner brought physicality to the defensive unit that was lacking some with the departure of Anton Volchenkov last season via free agency. With 12 fights this year, Carkner tied Chris Neil for the most fights by a Sen. Carkner took on many of the league’s top heavy weights this year and was able to hold his own. With a fight card that included George Parros, Shawn Thornton, Derek Boogaard, Colton Orr and Eric Godard, Carkner proved he was a contender. Here is his bout with Boston‘s Thornton courtesy of HockeyFights.com.

Carkner showed a maturation this year as he was more selective on when to drop the gloves. Only playing 50 games this year, Carkner missed the last 20 games of the season with a knee injury.

With only half as many fights this year compared to last year, Carkner seems to be focusing more on becoming an everyday NHLer rather than just a tough guy who can skate. Carkner does have a niche on the team as the heavy weight fighter and as the physical, defensive defenceman.

Final Grade

Carkner at times struggled this year, as did the rest of the team. Coming off a great rookie season, Carkner strayed from what got him to the show. He did find his game as the season went on and became one of Ottawa’s more dependable D-man. Carkner earns a “C” for his season as he did what was expected of him as a third pairing D-man. He could have earned a higher grade if he asserted himself more in his own end and punished opposing players more.

Contract Status: One year left on his current deal at $700,000, then he becomes a UFA

Trade Status: He is available if the right deal comes along. However, Ottawa will then have to go out and replace his toughness in the line-up. Most likely, Carkner will finish his contract with Ottawa and then both sides will decide if they are in each others future next summer.

Check out the Report Cards handed out so far:

Jason Spezza – “B”

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