With just 124 goals, no team in the NHL has had as much trouble putting the biscuit in the basket this season as the Los Angeles Kings. No matter how desperate they are for offense, though, the Kings shouldn't make a knee-jerk deal for Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jeff Carter.
According to CBC's Elliotte Friedman, the Blue Jackets would love to get rid of Carter, who has nearly a $5.3 million cap hit through the 2021/2022 season. Friedman also said that the Kings are the team that Columbus has targeted, and that Los Angeles would have plenty of interest in Carter.
They [Columbus] will try to trade Jeff Carter to the L.A. Kings and re-unite him with Mike Richards, who he’s close buddies with and played with in Philadelphia.
There is a sense that the Kings are interested in Jeff Carter—very much so.
Friedman makes an interesting point regarding Richards. The Flyers committed to long-term deals with both Richards and Carter, but decided to make sweeping changes by dealing them both on the same day during the offseason. While both were productive on the ice, there was a sentiment that their hard-partying ways created a fissure in the locker room.
Because of that, the Flyers traded Richards to the Kings despite the fact that he was the team captain and a two-time 30-goal scorer, and sent Carter to Columbus, regardless of his 46-goal campaign in 2008-09.
There was obviously something toxic about the combination of Richards and Carter, and that is why Philadelphia acted so quickly to rid itself of the dynamic duo. As for the Kings, it's easy to understand why they might be interested in acquiring a player who has scored at least 29 goals in a season on four different occasions, especially with Richards vouching for him.
Should the Kings trade for Jeff Carter?
Even though Carter might provide an offensive spark, there is plenty to consider. For one, Carter has been limited to 38 games this season and has just 12 goals. He hasn't been injury prone by any stretch of the imagination over the course of his career, but he isn't exactly the toughest player, either, despite his 6'4" frame.
Also, the financial commitment involved is huge. While Carter's cap hit isn't ridiculous due to his history as a goal scorer, the fact that he's locked up for 10 more years is disconcerting. The Kings only have $855,000 in cap space right now, so they'll have to move out salary as well as good, young pieces such as Jonathan Bernier and/or Slava Voynov just to land Carter.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Kings can't afford to have a destructive force enter their locker room. Not only might Carter be a disruption in his own right, but his arrival could plague Richards as well. If they were able to become renowned partiers in Philadelphia, I can only imagine what they can do in Hollywood.
Despite offensive talent like Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and others, it's obvious that the Kings need a forward who can put the puck in the net. At the same time, Carter is too much of a risk from a financial and a character standpoint to even consider.