NHL Trade Deadline: Why Jeff Carter Makes LA Kings Stanley Cup Contenders

Andre Khatchaturian@AndreKhatchCorrespondent IIIFebruary 24, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 03:  Jeff Carter #7 of the Columbus Blue Jackets takes a shot against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on February 3, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

It was one trade, but it's going to shake up the NHL and bring plenty of joy to the faces of Los Angeles Kings fans.

On Thursday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets sent Jeff Carter to the Kings for Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick.

What the Kings did was basic economics. They had a surplus of defense and they traded it away to address their shortage on offense.

With the trade, the Kings now become Flyers West because of the ties Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and the injured Simon Gagne have with Philadelphia.

The familiarity between Richards and Carter is going to propel the Kings forward. Just think how excited Richards is now that he's getting his supreme linemate back. 

And what about Carter?

He only got traded from a contender to a cellar dweller in the offseason. Then, he got traded back to a contender and gets reunited with a familiar face.

It's not hard to see that Carter has missed Richards. Just look at the stats.

Carter only has 15 goals and 10 assists this year and that goal total would be much less if it wasn't for a recent hat trick against San Jose. He's also a -11.

In his six seasons playing with the Flyers, Carter scored 181 goals and 162 assists, with a +51 rating. Most of his time on the Flyers was spent alongside Mike Richards.

The drop in Carter's numbers may have been because he lost his center, but it also could have been because he just wasn't motivated playing for the worst team in the NHL. It wasn't his choice to go to Columbus, he was traded.

Whatever the reason, Carter is now back playing for a contending team with his old friend, and this means trouble for the Western Conference.

The Kings never had any problems defensively. They've only allowed 135 goals, which is the fourth-lowest total in the league. They did give up Jack Johnson in the trade, but he was a -11 on the season and they still have shutdown guys like Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty to take care of business on the blue line.

Let's not forget the team's most valuable player, Jonathan Quick, who has continuously stolen games for the Kings.

Well, the pressure's off him now because of Carter.

Because of the reunion of the Carter-Richards duo, goals will be a lot easier to come by for the Kings. They're not going to get shut down 1-0 on consecutive nights like they have been recently.

When Carter and Richards click together, it may bring the rest of the team out of their season-long funk.

The team has some great forwards like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown who have been putting up decent seasons, but more was expected from a team that looked unstoppable on paper in terms of their forwards.

The Kings have scored 51 fewer goals than the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks this season, yet they're just three points behind them in the standings. Winning the division is not a far-fetched notion for the Kings. 

Once they do that they get a home playoff series with at least the No. 3 seed. With a hot goalie like Quick, a potent defense and finally a scoring punch, what else do the Kings need to win a Stanley Cup?

Not much.

So beware, NHL. The lion just woke up.