I must confess that when he was traded to Los Angeles at the NHL's trade deadline in 2012, I was skeptical. The Kings sent defenseman Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange and, at the time, I thought the deal was nothing more than a big contract for a big contract. Plus, from his days in Philadelphia, he and Mike Richards - who had been dealt to Los Angeles the previous summer - had a reputation for partying hard, living each night like there was no tomorrow. Now, he and Richards would be reunited. But my concerns, nor those of other skeptics, were not well-founded. Instead, Jeff Carter has had nothing but a positive impact on the Kings - and 2013-14 was certainly no exception.
Jeff Carter took part in 72 games during the regular season this past year, finishing second on the Kings in scoring behind only Anze Kopitar. During the season, Carter scored 27 goals and 23 assists for 50 points with accumulating a rating of +8.
With the exception of the 2006-07 season when he was still with the Flyers, Carter, 29, has finished every regular season with more goals than assists. On paper, fans and analysts alike can call Jeff Carter a selfish player from that standpoint. But fans and teammates in Los Angeles know that Carter is anything but. Just ask the aforementioned Mike Richards or, better yet, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli. Besides, as long as the sniper can produce, that's really all that matters - and boy, can Carter bring it. And being a sniper, it is only fitting that Carter led the Kings in shots during the regular season with 256.
But Carter was just as (if not more) formidable in the playoffs. On a line with the aforementioned Pearson and Toffoli, Jeff Carter made a statement. In 26 postseason games, the native of London, Ontario, notched 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) and was a serious contender for the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP.
Despite his 6' 4, 212-pound frame, Jeff Carter wasn't as physical as most of his teammates, generating a total of 68 hits during the regular season and another 41 during the playoffs. But his 52.2 percentage in the faceoff circle during the regular season certainly made up for what Carter lacked.
Jeff Carter had another great year in Los Angeles but it was extra special this season as it was an Olympic year. While he has represented his native Canada before, Carter never participated in the Olympics. That changed this year as Carter (along with teammate Drew Doughty) not only went to Sochi to represent Canada but help them win gold. For Carter, it was his first Olympic gold medal in his first opportunity - and that capped off with a Stanley Cup made 2013-14 the ultimate victory.
Jeff Carter still has eight years remaining on his current contract so the good news for Kings fans is that he'll be sticking around for quite a while. That's certainly not a bad thing, right?
Overall grade for Jeff Carter: A