Silver Nuggets: The Matt Carkner Conundrum

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 10: Eric Tangradi #25 of the Pittsburgh Penguins checks Matt Carkner #39 of the Ottawa Senators in the first period on January 10, 2012 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ottawa defeated Pittsburgh 5-1. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Matt Carkner is a man on the outs with the Ottawa Senators right now. Unfortunately, he started the season on injured reserve rehabbing from his knee surgery, which set him back significantly and allowed him to be passed by numerous players on the Ottawa Senators depth chart. He's now the team's number seven defender, well behind rookie Jared Cowen and even newcomer Matt Gilroy. When he gets into the lineup occasionally, he's used very sparingly (mostly on the penalty kill), and doesn't seem to have fit into Paul MacLean's system.

So where, exactly, does Carkner fit?

His greatest assets are his physicality and his defence, and in the past he's been a very useful third-pairing penalty-killing specialist. But after missing training camp and the first half of the season, he was unable to get himself up to speed at the NHL game; now that every point is so important, the team can't afford to slot him into the lineup and let him get his rhythm back--he's just not fast enough to control even third- and fourth-line opponents.

Carkner remains, however, a useful depth player. He can play positionally sound defence, and as long as he keeps things simple can put in a solid 10 minutes of ice time. Plus we all know he's a clutch playoff performer. But for now, he looks like a seventh defender--at best--on this Senators roster.

Senators headlines:

  • Recaps from last night: Silver Seven, Stanley Cup of Chowder, Sun, Citizen, CBC
  • Not content to let yesterday's column be the end to his poor advice, Don Brennan looks back on the Sens' 1-0 win last night and decided it wasn't good enough; Matt Carkner should have played. Winning is obviously secondary to Brennan. (Sun)
  • Tyler Dellow takes a close look at Erik Karlsson's assists this season, but holds us in suspense about the conclusion he'll draw. If the conclusion he draws is that Karlsson has been lucky to accumulate 51 assists so far, rather than skilled, we can probably just dismiss it right now. (MC79 hockey)
  • Both Brian Lee and Matt Gilroy are hoping new teams bring new successes. (Citizen)
  • Ben Bishop won his Binghamton Senators debut last night, a 5-1 victory over the St. John's Iced Cappuccinos. (TSN)
  • Apparently Roman Wick was the first Swiss player to win the Calder Cup when he did it with Binghamton last year. In this interview, he talks about his tough season, his lack of confidence in North America, and (for some reason) his jealousy about the opportunity granted to Stephane Da Costa. (RTS Sport)
  • A Foligno Leap joke, but it's not about Nick Foligno; it's about his brother, Marcus Foligno. (The AHL)
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