Q&A with Jeff Carter

By Al Alven

Selected by the Flyers with the 11th overall pick of last June’s NHL Entry Draft, Jeff Carter is unquestionably the most highly-regarded prospect in the team’s farm system and one of the top junior hockey players in the world.

The 19-year-old center recently completed his third season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, emerging as one of the circuit’s elite players while posting 66 points (36 goals, 30 assists) in 57 games.

He also earned rave reviews for his showing at the World Junior Championship in Finland, tallying seven points (5 goals, 2 assists) in six games for silver medal-winning Canada en route to earning a berth on the tournament’s all-star team.

At 6’3”, 193 pounds and growing, the London, Ontario native represents the future for the Flyers.

With his junior season completed, Carter is visiting Philadelphia as a guest of the organization. Recently, Hockey’s Future had the opportunity to meet with the young phenom following a Philadelphia Phantoms game at the Wachovia Spectrum.

HF: You’ve been in town for a few days now, soaking in the professional atmosphere. How is the visit going for you?
JC: It’s been excellent. I came in and really didn’t know any of the guys, but everyone’s been great to me. There are a lot of great people and players here, the coaches, the entire organization. It’s been good to come in and see how everything works, and just get some experience. It’s been a real good time.

HF: Have you struck up any notable relationships yet?
JC: I’ve been talking to [defenseman] Dennis Seidenberg a lot. He’s injured, so we’ve had a lot of time to get to know each other, skate together and work out. He’s been very helpful.

HF: What do you think of Philadelphia so far?
JC: It’s a great city, very big. Quite different from Sault Ste. Marie (laughs). It’s a nice opportunity to be here, meeting people and getting used to the area.

HF: You’ve developed into one of the elite players at the major junior level over the past year. What do you see as the primary factor in the progression of your game?
JC: Well, I worked very hard during the offseason. I think I got a lot stronger and a lot quicker. Those things really helped my game this year. I thought I had a really good year and a good World Junior tournament. Everything went really well overall.

HF: What aspects of your game need the most improvement at this point? What will you be working on during the offseason?
JC: I think I need to start filling out. Put some weight on, which always helps out (laughs). I need to get a lot stronger. Aside from that, just work on the little things. That’s really all.

HF: Despite your great season, it was another tough campaign for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
JC: Yeah, the team was really up and down. We had some good moments, but wound up missing the playoffs. It was disappointing, for sure.

HF: What was the WJC experience like for you?
JC: It was unbelievable. Any time you get a chance to represent your country, it’s always a big thrill. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the gold medal, but there’s always next year. It was a great experience going across to Finland and getting to play with some of the top players in Canada and against some of the best in the world.

HF: You played with fellow Flyers prospect Mike Richards at the WJCs, and have played against him many times in the OHL. What do you think of him as a player?
JC: He’s a great player, and we’ve had the chance to get to know each other and become pretty good friends now. He’s had a great year and I’m sure the Flyers are real happy with him.

HF: Talk about last year’s draft a bit. What was it like hearing your name called by Bob Clarke and the Flyers?
JC: It was a dream come true. It’s everything you work for. To sit there and hear your name called, it’s unbelievable. It’s the start of, hopefully, a long career for me.

HF: What kind of contact did the Flyers organization keep with you during the season?
JC: I didn’t really talk to them personally that much. They kind of sat back and watched and saw how things went. Then, when my junior season ended, they brought me in to be around the team.

HF: Will you be back with the Greyhounds next season, or is there a chance that you’ll sign with the Flyers and turn pro?
JC: As of right now, I’ll be going back to junior next season. But (smiling), you never know. Things can change.