Philadelphia Flyers v Buffalo Sabres - Game Three

Kings acquire Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson, first-rounder


As anticipated, the Los Angeles Kings are one step closer to becoming the Philadelphia Flyers (with a tan) as they did indeed acquire Jeff Carter. Aaron Portzline reports that the Columbus Blue Jackets landed offensive defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round pick in the exchange.

(Click here for reactions from all sides.)

Contract impact

Carter carries a $5.27 million cap hit through the 2021-22 season while Johnson’s $4.36 million cap hit goes until 2017-18.

The Kings’ roster is increasingly heavy with long-term deals as GM Dean Lombardi’s hopeful transition from cellar-dweller to contender continues. Here’s a quick look at the lengthier deals in Los Angeles:

Drew Doughty ($7 million): 2018-19
Anze Kopitar ($6.8M): 2015-16
Mike Richards: ($5.75M): 2019-20
Carter: ($5.27M): 2021-22

Dustin Brown, Matt Greene and Justin Williams also have contracts that will keep them around for a few more years. Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier’s cheap contracts run out after 2012-13, so Lombardi still has some big decisions to make.

Meanwhile, after trading away Antoine Vermette and Carter along with the strong possibility for Rick Nash’s departure, the Blue Jackets are opening the door for another rebuild. (Although their defense is strangely heavy on lengthy, expensive deals.)

source: Getty ImagesOn-ice impact

As you probably know, the Kings need offense. Carter provides goal-scoring zip and perhaps some depth down the middle, although he might make more sense on the wing. Los Angeles is heavy on defensive talent – one can imagine that Johnson’s absence will be a boon for Slava Voynov and/or Alec Martinez – so losing the attacking blueliner shouldn’t be too difficult.

(They’ll miss him on the power play, although Carter could make them better in that area anyway.)

Columbus washes its hands of one of two shaky big off-season moves by moving Carter. James Wisniewski likely gets more of an “incomplete” grade instead of an “F” this season because of injuries and suspension issues, but Johnson brings a lot of the same qualities to the ice.

That’s part of the interesting thing in this equation: both players bring serious offensive skills but glaring defensive warts to the table. Forgive me for possibly stating the obvious here, but I’d say it’s easier to accept gambling tendencies from a forward instead of a blueliner …

Off-ice matters

The natural question of the negative aspects of the Richards-Carter friendship will come up. If you ask me, the “Dry Island” stuff is more of a funny punchline than a real concern, but others might wring their hands about it quite a bit more.

One cannot wonder if Johnson feels a lot like Carter did about going to Columbus. After all, he probably wasn’t wildly popular in Ohio during his NCAA days in Michigan …


Overall, this is a solid deal for both sides. The Kings add offense without wrecking their salary cap situation, although they’re now more or less married to what they have. The Blue Jackets made the most of a declining situation with Carter by getting a talented blueliner and a first-round pick for their troubles.

It’s a conditional first-rounder. If the Kings miss the playoffs, Columbus will receive Los Angeles’ 2013 pick. If they make it, the Blue Jackets can choose between the Kings’ 2012 or 2013 choice.

Anyway, there’s my breakdown of the trade. Feel free to quibble with some points – I’m guessing most of you aren’t as fond of Carter – and share your thoughts on which team won the deal in general.

Or, considering the sour views on the players involved, perhaps which team lost the least …

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock
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ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat

As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?