Deadline Deals Underway
So the Philadelphia Flyers were so convinced that the duo of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were absolutely killing their chances to succeed that last summer they shipped Richards to L.A. and Carter to Columbus, two players they had once so believed in that both were signed to massive long-term deals.
And now the Kings have reunited them again, apparently believing that Richards and Carter are precisely the combination to stop the team's slide and juice up the NHL's worst offence.
All this in less than a year. But either Philly is right and the Richards/Carter combination won't produce a winner, or L.A. is right and these two belong together.
With four days left in the NHL shopping season, and with the bodies already flying, the trade that sent Carter to L.A. in exchange for defenceman Jack Johnson and a first round pick was about the biggest deal we can expect.
Well, unless Carter's former teammate, Rick Nash, gets moved.
Defenceman Kyle Quincey, Nicklas Grossman, Pavel Kubina and Hal Gill have been traded in the past week, as have forwards Antoine Vermette, Dominic Moore and Steve Downie. Now add Carter and Johnson to that group, and you already start to wonder whether this is the beginning of a gigantic swap meet, or whether by Monday we'll have anything left to talk about.
With the Carter/Johnson trade, it surely makes sense from the Columbus end. They desperately wanted to get out from under Carter's mammoth contract, essentially admitting they goofed last summer when they peddled viable assets to the Flyers to get the goal-scoring centre. In Johnson, they get a young blueliner already with his third NHL club (Carolina, L.A.), a player with lots of flash and dash but lots of holes. In Columbus, Johnson will get to be the kingpin of the blueline, something he was never going to be in L.A. as long as Drew Doughty was around. We'll see if Johnson flourishes in his new marquee role.
Still, this is exactly the kind of deal the Blue Jackets need to make; quality for quality, as opposed to quantity for quality. That said, Johnson has six years left on his $30 million deal, so in some ways they've taken on another problematic contract for one they shipped out the door.
Now we'll see if GM Scott Howson can do the same type of deal for Nash, or whether the Jackets are now less motivated now to make that transaction happen.
Less understandable, in some ways, is the Kings' end of Thursday night's trade. Obviously, GM Dean Lombardi believes the team needs instant offence, and Carter proved this week he can still score with a hat trick against San Jose. At the same time, the Kings aren't a team that's close to winning it all, yet after moving prospect Colton Teubert and a first rounder last year to Edmonton to get underachieving Dustin Penner, they've now made a similarly aggressive move to get a similar type player, enigmatic and erratic, although Carter has a far better resume.
Lombardi is often criticized by his peers for being too cautious and afraid to make bold moves at the right times. Well, trading for Penner and Carter were bold moves indeed, and Kings fans can only hope the latter acquisition will be less flawed than the former. That said, Lombardi and assistant GM Ron Hextall both have close ties to the Flyers; its hard to believe that the players deemed poison by Philly are now the elixir for success in Los Angeles.
It immediately spawned speculation, meanwhile, that Kings captain Dustin Brown could be on the trading block, and if he is available, expect Leafs GM Brian Burke to put in a bid as Brown's a kid he just loves.
With his club now having lost seven of eight and having finally fallen out of the final Eastern Conference playoff berth, the heat is on Burke to do something to both halt the slide and get his team into the post-season.
He's made it clear head coach Ron Wilson isn't going anywhere. Burke is looking for a goaltender - hard to say how James Reimer's performance in Thursday's loss to San Jose affects that picture - and clearly needs to do something of significant to shuffle the bodies on his roster. it could be bringing in bodies, or it could be shipping out players, with Luke Schenn and Clarke MacArthur at the top of that list.
Burke wasn't interested in Carter, but Brown would be another matter entirely. That despite the fact Brown is American-born, and Burke is surprisingly sensitive about the criticism he's been getting for his team being too U.S.-centric.
Meanwhile, he'll have to discern whether Columbus is still serious about moving Nash, and what it would take to make that happen.
Losing just makes it harder to make a big deal. Other GMs can smell the desperation.