The Jeff Carter era in Columbus has come to an end almost as quickly as it began.
The Blue Jackets traded the veteran forward to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round draft pick in either 2012 or 2013. The deal comes just eight months after the team acquired him in a trade from Philadelphia as one of the focal points of their offseason re-tooling.
The deal is contingent on Carter passing a physical on Friday.
“Jeff is a proven goal scorer in our league," said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi in a team statement. "He brings goal-scoring abilities, speed and at his age he is entering the prime of his career. We also like his versatility as he can play both center and wing. We also want to wish Jack Johnson the best going forward.”
Columbus initially gave up a package of players and picks that turned out to be Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier (the player the Flyers selected with No. 7 overall pick the Jackets sent to the Flyers), as well as a third-round pick. Turning around and trading him this quickly, at what might be his lowest possible value, for a package that on the surface doesn't appear to be as good as the one they gave up for him initially is certainly eye opening.
Prior to this season Carter had scored at least 30 goals in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 46 during the 2008-09 season. He appeared in just 39 games for the Blue Jackets this year, scoring 15 goals to go with 10 assists. He still has 10 years remaining on his contract that carries a yearly salary cap hit of $5.2 million.
And with that, the firesale is underway in Columbus.
For the Kings, the deal helps to fix their primary area of weakness -- a complete lack of goal-scoring -- as the team is currently the worst offensive team in the league and one of the worst the NHL has seen in recent years. It also reunites Carter and his former teammate in Philadelphia, center Mike Richards, as both players were traded by the Flyers over the summer preceding the addition of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and forwards Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr.
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The biggest piece going back to Columbus in this deal is Johnson, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 draft. He signed a seven-year, $30.5 million contract prior to start of this season, and while he provides a solid amount of offense from the blue line he has had his share of struggles defensively.
This is already the second trade for the Blue Jackets this week, having also sent center Antoine Vermette to Phoenix for goaltender Curtis McElhinney and a pair of draft picks on Wednesday.
Rick Nash's name continues to be the biggest one floating around the rumor mill, and he had been connected to the Kings. At this point it seems that it would be down to either the New York Rangers or San Jose Sharks for his services. Center Samuel Pahlsson is another player on the Columbus Roster that figures to draw a lot of interest before Monday's deadline.
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