Spotlight on the Opponent: Matt Carkner

What: NY Islanders at Detroit
When: Monday, December 23, 7:30pm (TV: FSD+)

Matt Carkner

If there’s anything Matt Carkner is familiar with, it’s an NHL penalty box.

Carkner, 33, is a defenseman for the New York Islanders by trade, but his hobbies include fighting and being whistled off the ice.

For his 212-game NHL career, Carkner has accumulated 484 penalty minutes, well over two per game.

Carkner is a late bloomer of sorts. He had a couple cups of coffee with San Jose and Ottawa, but didn’t make it full-time in the league until the 2009-10 season, at age 29.

Carkner was drafted way back in 1999, at age 18, by the Montreal Canadiens as the 58th overall pick of the NHL Entry Draft, but he never signed with the Habs. His first pro contract was signed in 2001, with the Sharks. Carkner made his NHL debut by playing in one game for San Jose in the 2005-06 season.

If you Google or YouTube Carkner, you’ll find lots of fight videos, mainly because Carkner fights a lot. His is sort of a dying breed—the pure enforcer whose mere presence on the ice could lead to a scrap.

This season, Carkner has played in 28 games, has all of three points, but has been whistled for 77 minutes in penalties. Typical Carkner “production.”

Carkner has been more of a career minor leaguer than an NHLer (he’s played in 527 minor league games, almost three times as many as in the NHL), but part of that has been due to injury. Carkner has battled through two serious knee injuries and a significant wrist injury along the way. The Islanders are his fourth NHL organization—five if you count the Canadiens.

Carkner wears no. 7 for the Isles.