Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Hollywood has always been great at taking
old ideas and repackaging them to look like exciting new ones.
Now, with the recent acquisition of Jeff Carter, LA's hockey team seems to be
taking a cue from the movie business and the Kings are betting that a sequel
will out-perform the original.
After waiting months and months for his team's offense to start pulling its
weight, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi was desperate to add scoring and
he paid a hefty price to do so on Thursday. LA sent defenseman Jack Johnson --
a former third overall pick in the draft -- as well as a a conditional first-
round draft selection in either 2012 or 2013 to Columbus for Carter, a
mercurial forward with undeniable skill, but inconsistent results.
The most interesting aspect of the trade is that it reunites Carter with
forward Mike Richards just months after the controversial duo who were
abruptly separated when Philadelphia traded both players on June 23.
Carter and Richards were both drafted by the Flyers in the first round of the
2003 draft, with the former going 11th overall and the latter getting picked
24th. The Carter-Richards Era in Philadelphia did have some high points, like
when they helped the club make a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals in
2010. However, the close friends were also criticized for partying too much
and those rumors will no doubt follow Carter to LA, even if the claims were
In the end, Lombardi paid a hefty price to bring both Carter and Richards to
the City of Angels. Back in June, LA sent talented young forwards Wayne
Simmonds and Brayden Schenn as well as a second-round draft pick to the
Flyers. Combined with the package sent yesterday to Columbus, that's a huge
ransom to land a pair of players that another team drafted and developed for
eight years before deciding it had seen enough. Then again, the Flyers had at
one point signed Richards to a 12-year contract and later inked Carter to an
11-year deal, so they couldn't always have been unhappy with them.
But, Lombardi's move is also a bit curious considering Richards has not
exactly lit it up in his first season with the Kings and Carter had similar
struggles during his time with the Blue Jackets. Richards has 14 goals and 17
assists in 53 games with LA this year, but has registered just one tally in
his last 26 games. Meanwhile, Simmonds and Schenn have combined for 30 goals
in their first season with the Flyers.
Carter posted 15 goals and 10 assists in 39 games this season for the Blue
Jackets, and even though those are disappointing numbers for a guy who once
scored 46 goals in a season, there is no doubt that LA's latest acquisition
adds a great deal of offensive talent to a team that has averaged an NHL-worst
2.05 goals per game.
Like Richards, Carter is 27 years old, but while the former player has always
been forced to rely more on tenacity than natural ability, the latter is
blessed with size, speed and a tremendous shot. However, Carter's effort has
been questioned at times, something that could never be said about the
One thing going for LA is that Carter made it pretty clear he never wanted to
play in Columbus, but Lombardi is gambling that the prospect of playing with
Richards again should rejuvenate his career.
"Jeff is a proven goal scorer in our league," said Lombardi. "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."
Ultimately, the deal for Carter is a desperate one on the Kings part, but that
doesn't mean that it doesn't fill a serious need. LA is eager to prove it's
moved past a long rebuilding phase and is ready to contend for a Stanley Cup,
but being unable to score consistently has so far kept the Kings from making
2011-12 a breakout season.
Always a streaky player, the Kings are hoping they've snatched Carter at the
right time to rescue this season. Although he is signed through 2021-22, how
Carter plays the rest of this season could go a long way towards deciding
whether or not LA makes the playoffs. The Kings head into Friday's action with
a one-point lead for the Western Conference's final playoff spot and not
qualifying for the postseason would be a huge letdown for a franchise that has
been so patient in building a team through the draft.
After years of LA holding onto homegrown talent in hopes of erecting a winning
foundation, Lombardi has gone elsewhere to try and rebuild his team on the
fly. Who knows, if the reunion of Carter and Richards helps to finally bring a
Cup to Los Angeles, maybe they'll make a movie out of it someday.
WHAT DOES THE CARTER TRADE MEAN FOR RICK NASH?
While Lombardi is crossing his fingers that Carter is the missing part of a
winning equation, Columbus GM Scott Howson is probably elated to be rid of a
player who turned out to be one long headache for the Blue Jackets.
Carter infamously went into hiding after being traded from Philadelphia in
June, and although he eventually went through the motions of acting like he
was excited to be a Blue Jacket, the whole experiment turned out to be a
disaster. It quickly became obvious that Carter was an awful choice to center
Columbus' star winger Rick Nash and Howson was forced to make the best of a
However, now that Howson flipped Carter for a talented young blueliner and a
first-round pick, it seems that the already hefty price to land Nash just went
up even more. Nash is also on the trading block and the Blue Jackets are
reportedly asking for a significant roster player, two prospects and a first-
round pick to acquire the services of one of the league's best power forwards.
Now that they've received nice return for Carter, Columbus will likely be even
pickier about what they want to get for Nash. Add to that the fact that the
Kings were expected to be a major player in the Nash sweepstakes and the odds
of the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 draft staying in Columbus seem to
have gotten better.
Then again, the Kings' acquisition of Carter could make one team more likely
to splurge for Nash and that is LA's Pacific Division rivals in San Jose. The
Sharks, who are currently tied with Phoenix for the division lead and are just
three points ahead of the Kings, have been one of the teams expressing
interest in Nash and it's possible that San Jose will be tempted even more
after seeing LA add a weapon to its offense.
The NHL's deadline to make a trade is Monday at 3 p.m (ET).
The Sports Network