That Just Happened

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers

Even though Jack Johnson has been rumored to be on the trading block for years now, and I never had any attachment to Johnson as a King, it’s still weird to think about him being gone. I also feel bad that he negotiated his own contract and took a little less money to stay here (probably buying whatever Lombardi was selling about building a winner) and that made him an attractive trade commodity. And yes, he is a Michigan man being sentenced to Ohio, which is also kind of cruel.

But, he was expendable.

Slava Voynov showed that he is ready to play in the NHL and showed that he can at least replace, if not exceed Johnson’s offensive capabilities and did not look out of place defensively at the young age of 22. Not only that, Johnson has been mired as a defensive liability since being a full-time NHLer. He backs off, lets down, and simply gives up too often in his own end. He improved this year, and will probably still improve, but he was more valuable as a bargaining chip than a 2nd pair defenseman to the Kings.

As far as Jeff Carter goes, well, there are many things to discuss. First, the negatives:

  • He has had a few injuries. Thankfully, nothing above the shoulder (knock). That wouldn’t be as big of an issue if he wasn’t-
  • Under contract for 10 more seasons AFTER this season.
  • There is a lot of speculation that he is a partier. I won’t post them here but google Jeff Carter + Mike Richards and a good amount are at bars.
  • So now that he is reunited with his former drinking buddy combined with the LA nightlife, the fear is that this phenomenon will get worse.
  • Goal scorers don’t get better after age 27, especially never having to play for another contract.

But there are many positives:

  • He had a huge season in 2008-09, scoring 46 goals.
  • He scored over 30 goals two other times. And another season with 29 goals.
  • Despite the injury history, in his six NHL seasons (prior to this one) he played 80 games or more four times.
  • The contract is long, but the hit against the salary cap is reasonable, at $5,272,727 to be exact.
  • Amidst his off ice chemistry with Richards, he had some on ice chemistry as well, and Richards alone could keep Carter focused.

As far as the deal itself- I feel Lombardi overpaid, solely because I assumed that taking that contract off Columbus’s hands was coming with a discount. But as Pierre LeBrun reported there were more teams than initially thought expressing interest in Carter, so the price went up. I thought Johnson alone was a bit high considering Carter wanted out of Columbus, so the first round pick was a punch square to the nuts, since the Kings were already without a 2nd (Richards) and 3rd (Penner) round pick in the 2012 entry draft. It is a conditional 1st rounder, and will skip to 2013 if the Kings miss the playoffs. Yay?

The length of the contract is mine (and most’s) main source of trepidation. It’s in Kovalchuk territory but not quite. Carter will be 37 at the end of it, not in his 40’s, and if he can get back to former form, the yearly cap hit will be a bargain for the production… for a while. It’s more likely that he’ll be vastly overpaid for most of it, unfortunately, but I guess we just shouldn’t worry about that yet.

Also, scoring was needed. Defense was not a problem and there is depth at the position. To add to the forward ‘talent’ without subtracting from it, and not give up a high-end prospect (other than what that conditional pick becomes), the deal breaks down to one that Lombardi had to make.

This is all but proving the speculation that there is pressure from AEG on Lombardi to win now. Before the season started, I would have been banging the same drum. Now, I’d just be happy to enjoy watching hockey games again.

I guess AEG’s thinking is inline with an LA attitude- I don’t care about what happens later, entertain me immediately!

I sure hope it works.

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