Instant reaction: LA Kings trade Jeff Carter to Penguins

LA Kings (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the LA Kings have traded Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Here’s what the Kings are getting.

Minutes after TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the LA Kings and Penguins were working on a deal to send Jeff Carter to Pittsburgh, he followed that up with this bombshell.

Carter is making $5.3M AAV in his final two years, with his contract set to expire at the end of the 2021-2022 season. The early reports suggest that the Kings will retain salary and receive a couple of conditional draft picks.

With Ron Hextall as the new general manager in Pittsburgh, this trade makes a lot of sense in that Hextall served as the Kings’ assistant general manager and was with the organization from 2006-2013.

Carter, 36, was acquired in February 2012 by the Kings from Columbus in exchange for Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick. He helped orchestrate an improbable Stanley Cup run in 2012 and again in 2014, scoring a team-leading eight goals, including three game-winning goals in the Kings’ first Cup run.

The former 11th overall pick in 2003 had eight goals and 19 points in 40 games this season.

Carter’s departure is a bit surprising, given the other names that were in recent rumors. Honestly, I was expecting the Kings to mull over buying out his contract in the offseason. He spent the majority of the 2021 season playing with Andreas Athanasiou and Gabe Vilardi on the Kings second line.

Certainly, if you’re the Kings, this opens the door for someone like Matt Luff or one of the winger prospects in Ontario to get an extended look for the final 16 games of the season. The other alternative is Vilardi moves to the wing, and the Kings recall Rasmus Kupari for another look, or dare we say…Quinton Byfield? I think it’s fairly safe at this point to assume the Kings won’t burn the first year of his ELC, but he can still play in 6 games without the clock starting.

I’d expect the Kings to do that, at least.

Depending on the placement of the conditional draft picks, Rob Blake has to use these in a package over the summer to improve other areas on the roster. The Kings already used one of two fourth-round picks to acquire Brendan Lemieux a couple of weeks ago. Now, it’s time to go for the big fish in the offseason.

Something that I found interesting because I am a stats nerd, Carter scored the first goal of the Kings 2021 season, and he scored in his last game on Saturday. Just the games in the middle were littered with inconsistent production.

And sending Jeff off with some great messages that I saw on Twitter.