Exactly 7 month ago today, the Philadelphia Flyers shocked the hockey world trading Captain Mike Richards and leading scorer Jeff Carter on the same day in separate trades.
Richards went to the Kings, where he was expected to join an already potent attack force. The likes of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Penner, and Dustin Brown offered both skill and size up front, while Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson anchored the defenseOn February 23 2012 the team sit dead last in the NHL in goals scored, on the cusp of being passed for 8th in the playoff race.
Cue the trade.
Los Angeles dealt Jack Johnson and a condition first round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Richards’ former teammate and buddy Jeff Carter.
On the surface you question why the Kings would give up on a defenseman like Johnson, highly skilled with an edge. But you look at their prospects and see that 7 of their top 10 are d-man, you begin to realize depth lies in this part of the game for LA. Carter presents an explosive scoring force that has chemistry with the aforementioned Richards. A former 46-goal man, he’s a big body with a natural knack for scoring. The slight con is the injuries. He’s missed 20 games in 2011/2012 with separate shoulder and knee injuries. You also have to wonder what a young guy like Carter, just 27-years old, does outside of hockey to warrant being traded twice in one year. I guess the Flyers and Blue Jackets loss is the Kings gain.
For Columbus, trading a guy with 10 years and $50+ million on his contract for a viable number one defenseman in Johnson and a potential future first is great return. People forget that they themselves gave up a young player in Jakub Voracek, a first and third rounder. They were never going to get the same back, but you have to peg Johnson as a slightly better player than Voracek, and accumulating first rounders is the way to go for a re-building team. On a team that was winning in LA, it’s alarming that he was a minus player ever year so maybe the Kings did well in parting when they did. Johnson though is a tenacious d-man with some offensive abilities.
The biggest question in this trade is how does affect the trade status of Rick Nash. The Blue Jackets captain is said to be on the block, but after the Antoine Vermette trade, and now the parting of Jeff Carter you wonder what GM Scott Howson and the franchise itself can sell to fans going forward.
It’s my opinion that Nash will not be moved at the deadline unless the ultimate Godfather offer is presented.
I do know however, the Carter move makes Monday a bit more intriguing.