Thursday evening Jeff Carter was reunited with his former teammate and captain Mike Richards as the LA Kings made the move to acquire his services.
LA sent defensemen Jack Johnson and a conditional first round pick to Columbus (2012 or 2013) for Jeff Carter.
The first thing that obviously pops out in this trade is that Carter and Richards are reunited mere months after both were jettisoned within hours of one another from Philadelphia. The Flyers decided that long term they wanted a culture change for their franchise and now it appears that the Kings feel the same way. It is hard to ignore all of the off ice rumors that surrounded both players in their tenure with the Flyers and will be interesting to see how things play out with both playing in Los Angeles.
From the Los Angeles perspective, their diet of goal scoring the past month has been looking like that of Nicole Richie. Their offensive production has been pathetically low and it has caused the team to drop all the way down to 8th place with no assurances of making the playoffs, especially with teams previously written off, like rival Anaheim, coming on strong. The acquisition of Jeff Carter is an immediate answer to try and improve that area of their game. Carter has been coming on as of late and has 6 points in the last 5 games and is coming off of a hat trick against San Jose on 2/21.
Has LA’s short term offensive woes clouded Lombardi’s judgment though? Carter should help the offense but it does not come without negatives. For starters he has a contract until 2022. That is incredibly long and there is always huge risk when giving players contracts for that long of a term. Even Alex Ovechkin’s contract is starting to look not as fool proof as it once was. Carter is now with his third team since the summer of 2011 with a supposedly immovable contract and that should raise some eyebrows.
One positive with the Kings acquiring Jeff Carter as opposed to trying to acquire Rick Nash is that they have given up fewer assets to do so, and I think more importantly it will leave them more cap room to resign their star goaltender Jonathan Quick. Another positive is that Jack Johnson’s departure opens the door for a player like Slava Voynov to really take the reigns and grow as a player in his new advanced role with the team.
However there are negatives already that are taking shape with this deal for LA. With the new found culture change in LA has Dustin Brown become expendable? The immediate fallout of this trade seems to be that the Kings are actively listening to offers for their captain. Why would they do something like that?
Bob McKenzie @TSNBobMcKenzie Why trade Brown? IMO, LAK like Brown as "player," not as enthused about Brown as captain. IMO, only matter of time til Mike Richards gets C.
Say what you will about Brown as a captain but Brown as a hockey player brings a cornucopia of abilities to the table and his cap hit might just be one of the best value contracts in the entire NHL. Moving him would be moving a player who has the kind of game you want to have if your goal is to win in the playoffs. I like to think of him as a younger Chris Kunitz with a higher ceiling.
The one thing that I am deriving from what the Kings are doing is that they seem to be only focused on the short term. Why would that be? I think it is because they have a GM who knows he is on the hot seat. At this point in time he is only making moves in order to save his job. The long term does not matter to Lombardi right now, he knows if the Kings miss the playoffs he is most likely out of a nice GM job in Los Angeles, CA, which is probably a nice lifestyle.
On the Columbus Blue Jackets side of things they have already moved on from the Jeff Carter mistake. It was a trade that was doomed from the start. From the assets they gave up to acquire Carter (Couturier, Voracek, and Nick Cousins, Cousins is 9th overall in OHL scoring with 30 goals 42 assists in 55 games) to the horrible fit that Carter provided as a center for Nash. Surprisingly enough they did manage to get some value back from the Kings. Jack Johnson will be able to eat a lot of defensive minutes for the Blue Jackets who need all the help they can get at the defense position. Johnson is able to play in any situation and that is a major plus for the Jackets.
My first reaction to this trade from a Blue Jackets perspective was, “What would Jack Johnson’s reaction be to it”. Jack Johnson has a history of not being the easiest guy to work with in regards to contracts, as his father is a meddling presence much like Eric Lindros’ father was. They orchestrated their way out of Carolina as Johnson refused to sign with the team that drafted him.
However, Jack Johnson is indeed saying the right things so far about his trade to the Blue Jackets and that is a good thing.
From Rotoworld.com "This is going to be great," Johnson said. "I’m a Midwestern boy at heart, and I see this as a great opportunity. I can’t wait to get there and meet the guys."
Hopefully Johnson can be a positive for the Blue Jackets for the remainder of his deal. I do think it is funny that a Michigan guy like Johnson is now playing deep inside of enemy territory in Buckeye country. I’ll bet Johnson is looking forward to the next game at the Horsehoe. It should make for good banter with the local fans and I think that can be a nice positive that helps him acclimate himself to the Columbus area.
The Blue Jackets also received another first round pick which is always good for a rebuilding team. They will need to make good with that pick.
The overall net gain from the Carter debacle leaves a bit to be desired though. In essence the Jackets traded Carter, Voracek, Couturier, and Nick Cousins for Jack Johnson and a 1st round pick. The Blue Jackets will have to be better moving forward in that regard, but I do give them credit for being able to move Carter’s undesirable long term deal for some helpful assets. It is not always easy to deal a player everybody knows you are going to move and get good assets back.
To summarize my thoughts on this particular deal I think that in the short term LA is getting a guy who can help boost their scoring while in the midst of an incredible drought. Unfortunately, this trade is anything but a short term thing as Carter’s deal does not run out until 2022. Carter has playoff stats that leave a lot to be desired (47GP 13 goals 8 assists 21 points). It looks as though the reunion of Carter and Richards is also going to force out the Kings current captain Dustin Brown, much like how the addition of Pronger eventually led to Richards’ departure. Long term I think that is a bad move for the Kings. Brown is a do it all kind of player with a great cap hit, it would be a shame if he ended up being moved directly because of the Carter deal. I think this was a panic move from Dean Lombardi and only time will tell if reuniting Richards and Carter is a good idea. For the Kings sake it better be, because if it doesn’t work out this time dealing those players is not going to be easy. Lucky for Lombardi, he won’t have to clean the mess up if it doesn’t pan out, he’ll be gone.
The Blue Jackets did what they could with an undesirable situation and will now be able to move on from the Carter situation. Now that the Carter distraction is gone they will be able to pay full attention to Rick Nash and any potential move regarding him.
Thanks for reading, feel free to share your opinions.
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