There are two things in common this season when it comes to Jeff Carter and the Los Angeles Kings – they have both failed to live up to expectations. With Carter now on his way to the west coast, has Kings GM Dean Lombardi solved the team’s goal-scoring woes with this one trade?
The Kings, who at the beginning of the season were viewed as a Stanley Cup contender, are inexplicably a playoff bubble team with 21 games remaining in a mystifying season. They have scored the least amount of goals in the NHL (129), making goaltender Jonathan Quick stand on his head just to give the Kings a chance at a point, let alone two.
Though they boast a talented roster that, one would assume, is capable of beating any team on any given night. But Lombardi, already under pressure as is, has exhausted all of his options. He fired Terry Murray after a sluggish start. He subsequently hired Darryl Sutter, who previously worked with the Kings GM in San Jose. The call-ups he has made have not ignited any sort of offense.
The team has failed to respond to these changes like Lombardi hoped, leaving him with no option but to find an external solution to solve their goal-scoring woes. How serious have those woes become?
Sutter’s gang has scored a whopping one goal or less in seven of their last 10 games, including three shutouts by the score of 1-0. Most of their top-six forwards are experiencing down seasons, including off-season acquisition Mike Richards, who has just 31 points in 53 games.
After back-to-back demoralizing defeats this week, going 4-7-3 in their last 16 games, and with no solution in-house, Lombardi reached the breaking point as the stretch run gets ready to commence.
The Kings need a major spark. In steps Jeff Carter, who was acquired tonight in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick.
All we heard out of Columbus was how bad of a fit Carter was, how he doesn’t care and doesn’t want to be there, how teams will shy away from his albatross contract. With 15 goals in 39 games, Carter hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard, either. But he will help the offensively-challenged Kings.
Carter didn’t want to be in Columbus because of the circumstance surrounding his departure from Philadelphia, along with his new team’s lack of a winning tradition. Being traded to Los Angeles could very well be a different story.
He will be surrounded by talent with the Kings; he will be heading to a playoff contender; and he will be reunited with Richards, his good friend from their playing days way-back-when in Philadelphia. (Carter and Richards were also drafted by the Flyers together in 2003.)
It’s unfair to judge Carter by the numbers he has put up this season (15 goals, 25 points, -11 rating in 39 games). He’s coming from a terrible situation in Columbus where everyone is having a bad year. It’s difficult to succeed in that type of setting, whether you want to be there or not.
What we do know is Carter is 27 years old and averaged 38 goals per season in the three seasons with the Flyers before he was abruptly traded to the Blue Jackets. He’s been inconsistent (and a bit injury-prone) his whole career, but he’s talented, has a wicked wrist shot and is a threat to score every time the puck is on his stick.
Will Carter fit in Los Angeles for the duration of his contract? No one knows, and I don’t think Lombardi really cares at this point. The Kings GM needed to get a goal-scorer – now. If the goal-scorer from Philadelphia arrives in L.A., and not the enigma from Columbus, then Lombardi certainly found part of the solution for the offense-starved Kings.
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