Jeff Carter wasn't happy about getting traded to Columbus last summer, but his stay didn't last long.
Numbers Game breaks down the deal that sends Carter to the West Coast.
The Kings Get: C Jeff Carter.
Carter, 27, has endured a disappointing season in Columbus, missing 21 games with an assortment of injuries, including a broken foot and separated shoulder. When he's been in the lineup Carter, who tallied a hat trick last game, has managed 15 goals, 25 points and a minus-11 rating in 39 games. He ranks 21st in the league with 3.3 shots on goal per game.
Digging deeper, Carter ranks among the worst Blue Jackets forwards in shot differential (minus-5.1 per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play; www.behindthenet.ca) though, to be fair, he faced the highest calibre of competition among all Columbus forwards.
In the four years prior to this season, Carter scored 144 goals for Philadelphia, ranking fifth in the league over that time frame (behind Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jarome Iginla and Dany Heatley), so he has the pedigree to provide what has been ailing the offensively-challenged Kings all season.
Carter has already played with Mike Richards in Philadelphia, so there doesn't figure to be a long adjustment process. Carter could slide onto Richards' wing immediately and give the Kings a bona fide scoring threat and perhaps help Richards shake from his current slump, that has seen him score one goal in the last 26 games.
There have been more than a few suggestions that the Flyers shipped Richards and Carter out of Philadelphia last summer because of off-ice issues, so that will be a situation that bears watching in Los Angeles, but as long as they are productive, there won't be much reason to complain. Given the Kings' front-office connections to Philadelphia, it's not as if they entered into these acquisitions without some knowledge of the players' character.
In the first year of an 11-year, $58-million deal, Carter represents a sizeable investment for the Kings, one that they could regret after, say, six or seven seasons, but if there are favourable results in the meantime, that might make it more palatable when Carter's production dips in his mid-30s.
Rookie defenceman Slava Voynov, a puck-mover who can handle more time at even strength and on the power play, figures to be a beneficiary of this deal as well, picking up additional ice time with Jack Johnson departing.
The Blue Jackets Get: D Jack Johnson and a first-round pick in 2012 or 2013.
Johnson is a 25-year-old defenceman who has loads of potential, with puck skills, a hard shot from the point and the size to be a physical presence, but he hasn't been able to put it all together.
Since the beginning of the 2007-2008 season, Johnson's rookie year, he has far and away the worst minus rating in the league at minus-85. (Brendan Witt, at minus-60, is next closest.) This season, Johnson's shot differential (minus-0.7 per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play; www.behindthenet.ca) is barely ahead of Rob Scuderi for worst among Kings defencemen.
In Columbus, Johnson will continue to get plenty of minutes -- he's played at least 22 minutes per game in each of the last three seasonss -- including time on the power play.
Johnson's contract, while long-term, is a more manageable seven years for $30.5-million. In the immediate aftermath of this trade there have been reports that the Kings might be making winger Dustin Brown available for trade, but if that is indeed the case, that doesn't appear to be necessary financially.
The conditional pick is lottery protected this year, so if the Kings miss the playoffs, the Blue Jackets get the pick in 2013. If the Kings make the playoffs this season, the Blue Jackets get their choice of either a 2012 or 2013 first-rounder.
The status of the draft pick assures that it will be a mid-to-late first-round pick for the Blue Jackets and it could be several years before that pick makes a difference in the NHL, so the Blue Jackets had better hope that Johnson becomes a legitimate top pair defenceman and finds his way onto the plus side of the ledger for the first time in his career.
Ultimately, the Kings are getting the player most likely to make a positive impact but, in doing so, they are taking on a financial commitment that could have more downside by the time the contracts run out.