Growing up in nearby Waterdown, Ont., he was no stranger to the Maple Leafs – which naturally bred additional excitement upon being drafted.
congrats to my coworker’s son, carter verhaeghe, drafted in the 3rd round, 82nd overall, by our hometown NHL team, the toronto maple leafs!
— v (@pyroboyee) July 1, 2013
Fast-forward to the present day. Verhaeghe, still just 25 years old, has already added multiple accolades to his hockey resume. These accomplishments include a John B. Sollenberger Trophy (the AHL’s Art Ross trophy), a Willie Marshall Award (the AHL’s Rocket Richard trophy), and, of course, a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020.
Due to cap constraints following their big win, the Lightning decided not to tender his qualifying offer this past offseason (he was an RFA with arbitration eligibility); thus, he became a free agent.
The Florida Panthers were among some of the teams interested in Verhaeghe. They ended up signing him to a two-year, $2 million contract (October 2020).
A bridge contract like this one is typically very low-risk, and the gamble seems to be paying dividends already.
Through his first six games as a Panther this season, he has registered five goals and seven points in just 6 games – with all of these points coming at even-strength. Verhaeghe also boasts a 57.1 CF% despite starting over 56% of his shifts in the defensive zone. Not bad for one mill.
Gotta love Carter Verhaeghe scoring a goal from below the goal line on Wayne Gretzky’s birthday. pic.twitter.com/CqG9j6WSEV
— David Dwork (@DavidDwork) January 27, 2021
But how did he get from junior to here? Let’s rewind a bit. Before Verhaeghe even became an NHL player, he was traded by the Maple Leafs (classic) as a part of the multi-player package used to acquire Michael Grabner from the New York Islanders (September 2015).
From there, he bounced between the Isles’ minor league affiliates including the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) and the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) before being traded once more to the Lightning (July 2017).
From there, Verhaeghe began the 2017-18 season with Tampa’s AHL affiliate (Syracuse Crunch) and quickly became a key cog in their lineup. He finished the season with 17 goals and 48 points in 58 games – adding an additional goal and eight points in seven playoff games.
As the 2018-19 season rolled around, Verhaeghe took yet another step forward and soon seemed to be ‘too good’ to remain in the AHL any longer. That year was when he won both of the previously-mentioned scoring trophies – finishing the season with 34 goals and 82 points in just 76 games.
Verhaeghe was certainly on the Lightning’s radar at that point and managed to make the opening night lineup ahead of the 2019-2020 season. He was reasonably productive for a rookie, considering he only averaged about 9 minutes of ice time per game – registering nine goals and 13 points over 52 contests.
This year, his ice time has nearly doubled as a member of the Panthers – falling just shy of 18 minutes per night.
At this rate, the sky’s the limit in terms of what kind of player Verhaeghe can become. At a minimum, he seems to be a well-rounded forward capable of contributing to the middle-six of an NHL lineup.
#arbitrarylist #59 – Players whose goals/60 vastly exceeds their individual xG/60:
1. Carter Verhaeghe (2.8/1.2)
2. Johnny Gaudreau (2.2/0.7)
3. Max Pacioretty (2.9/1.5)
4. Travis Konecny (2.1/0.7)
5. Nikolaj Ehlers (2.3/1.0)#fantasyhockey
stats via @NatStatTrick
— Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey (@ApplesGinos) February 2, 2021