William Carrier averaged more than a point per game during his final three seasons playing major-junior and was a second-round pick in 2013.
He showed scoring touch during his second season in the American Hockey League with 30 points in 56 games.
But the scouting report on the Golden Knights’ left wing has long been that he’s a swift-skating, ham-fisted, fourth-liner who plays a physical game.
“That’s what I used to think of him. Seriously,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “But this year he looks more confident. He looks talented.”
Thanks to his offensive development, Carrier has become an important piece for Gallant, able to slot into a variety of roles in the Knights’ bottom six.
He moved up to the third line Saturday against the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues and danced through the defense to set up Paul Stastny for the second goal in the Knights’ 5-4 overtime victory.
“I got the call to play on the third line, so I think they were trying to maybe get a little more offense out of me,” Carrier said. “I’m just trying to do what they want me to do. It was good. We played well.”
Carrier has a career-high 13 points in 45 games, and his eight assists are two more than the total from his first three seasons combined.
But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Carrier was a playmaker during his junior career and in the minors, consistently posting more assists than goals.
“I got to the NHL playing that tough way,” Carrier said. “But we’ve got skill.”
The 25-year-old ranks fifth among the team’s regular forwards with a 53.9 shot attempts percentage at 5-on-5 and has adjusted his playing style to remain healthy.
Carrier was first in the NHL in hits per 60 minutes (30.94) among qualifying players last season but is down to 18.94. He ranks 10th overall with 131 hits.
“We like what he’s doing. He’s working hard, and he’s got a lot of speed,” Gallant said. “I don’t think he’s hitting as much as he did in the past, but he’s playing great hockey.”
Perron not pleased
St. Louis’ David Perron was involved in a wrestling match with Max Pacioretty late in regulation Saturday, but was more angry at the second-period scrum between Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo and the Knights’ Ryan Reaves.
“I thought that was (expletive), to be honest with you,” Perron said. “That’s how I see it.”
Pietrangelo and Reaves started shoving in front of Blues goalie Jake Allen and eventually fell to the ice. Video showed Reaves shoving his former teammate’s face in the ice, and he knocked off Pietrangelo’s helmet at the end of the dust-up.
Perron, who played for the Knights during their inaugural season, took exception to his former team’s heavy tactics.
“We know what to expect. We play them enough already,” Perron said. “I see a lot of games with them. I appreciate a lot of stuff they do, like their coaches, obviously, the organization, everything. But I didn’t like that play in particular.”
How good has Chandler Stephenson been since being acquired by the Knights on Dec. 2?
His overtime goal against the Blues on Saturday was Stephenson’s fifth in 16 games. His career high prior to this season was six goals.
Stephenson has eight goals and 13 points in 40 games with the Knights and Washington. He surpassed his point total (11) from all of last season and is closing in on his career high of 18 points set in 2017-18.
Goals in bunches
The Knights have won four straight, matching their season high, and scored five goals in each of their last three outings.
It’s the second time the Knights have scored at least five goals in three straight contests (including shootout-deciding goals). They also accomplished the feat from March 17 to 21 last season.