In all of the talk about the depth of the team -- the defense, the goalie situation and all the new acquisitions -- Flyers forward Jeff Carter has been overshadowed.
Maybe it's better that way.
The Flyers signed Carter to an 11-year extension worth $58 million on Nov. 12. Carter was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on July 1. He has rewarded the Flyers with his stellar play this season and has regained his scoring touch in the second half of the season.
The season didn't start off great for Carter but he has 15 goals in his last 23 games and looks to get hot in time for another deep playoff run.
"We don’t like how last year ended," Jeff Carter said. "We have to work harder to win it all."
Carter has 32 goals this season, which ties him for sixth in the league with Sidney Crosby. While Carter has 32 goals in 67 games, Crosby had 32 in just 41 games. That's not a knock on Carter, it just shows the incredible pace Crosby was setting before he was injured.
The Flyers offensive depth has forced the team to spread the puck around and Carter has learned to turn up the intensity when he has the opportunity.
"The time is spread out a little more now," Carter said. "I also feel I play better when I play more minutes."
The star forward just wants the puck on his stick when the game counts and has no problem being the one to take the big shots. Carter has eight powerplay goals and seven game winners to go along with the 28 assists he has this season.
Carter has always been a solid offensive threat but it's the other aspects of his game that are making him one of the most valuable forwards in the league.
His first major improvement has been in the faceoff circle. While he is still the third or fourth option on the team to take important faceoffs, his 55 percent faceoff winning average is one of the highest in his career.
Another improved aspect of his game is his defensive prowess. He was never thought of as a defensive forward before, but now he is trying to play well at both ends of the ice.
With a plus-20, not only does Carter lead the Flyers, he is 21st overall and 10th for forwards in that category.
"A lot of the team's offense comes from playing good defense; breaking plays up and creating odd-man rushes," Carter said. "I think we were pretty solid in that area and hopefully we can keep going on it."
Not only does it seem that Jeff Carter is maturing as a player, it seems like he is maturing as an athlete and a man.
His presence at both ends of the ice has been an intricate part of what the Flyers have done this season.
If the Flyers plan on going deep into the playoffs again this season, the team will be depending on Carter to bring his scoring touch and not to forget his new found 'defense breeds offense' mentality.