It may not be fair to analyze Jeff Carter’s regular season considering he was in Columbus for most of it. Nevertheless, the 16 games Carter did play for the Kings warranted some significance as it set the tone to his post-season performance.
On June 23, 2011, the Philadelphia Flyers decided to go in a new direction. So, on the same day they traded Mike Richards to Los Angeles, the Flyers shipped Jeff Carter off to Columbus in a move that should have helped the Blue Jackets immensely. Instead, the Jackets were stuck in neutral and Carter was not happy with his new team. Richards, on the other hand, despite his strong start to the season, slowed down considerably and, on the verge of missing the playoffs, the Kings had to make a change.
Just days before the trade deadline this past February, Los Angeles acquired the disgruntled Carter in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson. While some Kings fans were skeptical about the move (hefty contract for hefty contract in addition to trading away a fan favourite), the 27-year-old Carter made his new team look very smart. Besides, his friend and teammate from Philadelphia, Mike Richards, found himself in a comfort zone that looked to be missing for much of the season.
Scoring 15 goals and 10 assists in his brief 39-game stint in Columbus, Carter scored six goals and added three assists in 16 regular season games for the Kings. While his -12 rating is somewhat horrendous, it is important to note that the London, Ontario, native was just a -1 since joining the Kings. With all due respect to the Blue Jackets, it isn’t hard to fathom why such a talented forward was a -11 for such a hapless team.
In the playoffs, Carter did not disappoint, scoring eight goals and adding a five assists in 20 games. As dominant as the Kings were in the playoffs, Carter was their only player to record a hat-trick in the post-season. Three of his eight tallies were game-winners, including the OT winner in New Jersey to end Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Carter was even good in the faceoff circle, compiling 50.8% during the regular season and 52.6% in the playoffs. At 6’3, 193 pounds, the former 46-goal-scorer helped out on the physical side as he delivered 22 hits.
He may still have a lengthy contract but there are very few Kings fans (assuming there are any at all) complaining about Jeff Carter being a King. He and Mike Richards fell just two games shy of winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 when their Flyers bowed out to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Finals. Two years later, they were reunited again and this time, the tandem of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards did enough to get themselves and their team over the top.
In October, Jeff Carter will be beginning his first full season with the Los Angeles Kings when the silver-and-black will be all set to begin the defense of their championship title. So, I can safely say that I changed my mind. Unlike what I said when he was first dealt to the Kings in February, I’d rather not have Nell – I’ll take Jeff any day of the week.
Photo: Courtesy of Lucy Nicholson/Reuters