Friday, February 24, 2012

Hey Mr. Carter

"Reunited & It Feels So Good.."
It’s no secret.  The Los Angeles Kings are floundering.  The Kings have won only two of their last ten.  The entire roster has struggled to score goals, averaging only 2.05 goals per game, dead last in the NHL.

The Kings averaged 2.55 goals last season (25th in the league).  Dean Lombardi did his best to bolster their anemic offense in the offseason.  Unfortunately, the results this season have been mixed at best.

Fans were ecstatic when Dean Lombardi acquired Mike Richards prior to the Draft.  He was fantastic during the first two months of the season posting 20 points in 24 games.  Unfortunately, Richards has only 11 points in 29 games since suffering a concussion in early December.  PASS.

Perfect, DL got a #1A center to compliment Kopitar.  Only box that needed to be checked was a top-line left wing…

Dustin Penner.  His late-season struggles followed him into this season.  He’s got five goals in 44 games.  A handful of healthy scratches.  Currently in Coach Sutter’s doghouse.  FAIL.

Simon Gagne.  Finally, the left wing that Kopitar has been so desperate for.  Seven goals in 34 games before going down with a concussion.  FAIL.

Scott Parse.  Two goals in 9 games before season-ending hip surgery.  FAIL.

Enter Jeff Carter.  Yes.  THAT Jeff Carter.

Forget the last 39 games where Carter was forced to play alongside another goal scorer in Rick Nash with no playmaker in Columbus.  Forget that he’s signed thru 2022 for a moment.  Forget that Dry Island garbage too.

This guy is the sniper that the Kings have been longing for.  Carter has averaged 36 goals over the past four seasons.  He’s lit the lamp 144 times over the past four seasons.  To put that into perspective, only three players have scored more goals since the 2007-08 season: Alexander Ovechkin (203), Ilya Kovalchuk (167) & Jarome Iginla (160).

No player has seen his stock fall more than Carter this season.  He wasn’t happy about going to Columbus.  Once he finally got there; the BJs were terrible.  Then rumors began swirling that Carter wanted out.  Oh, and he hurt his shoulder too.  Now, Columbus is taking offers for their captain.  Simply put: Columbus is a mess.  The BJs made the best out of a bad situation and the Kings vastly improved their offense with the acquisition of Mr. Carter.

Kings fans are pretty pessimistic when it comes to Carter helping this team.  But what else is new...

“Carter & Richards partied too much in Philly.  How out of control will they be in Los Angeles?”

I could care less about what Mike Richards and Jeff Carter do in their spare time.  DL shouldn’t care either.  The Kings are desperate for goals.  That’s all Carter knows how to do.  Shoot.  Score.  Celebrate with a drink after the game.  And do it all over again next game. 

Put all that Dry Island garbage to rest.  If a teammate is going to call into question Richards’s and Carter’s character after they’ve already been dealt at least attach your name to it.  That entire mess should give you a good idea of what that locker room was like last season.  Richards was John Stevens's captain.  Chris Pronger was Peter Laviolette's captain.  And there's a reason nobody likes Chris Pronger.  Just saying...

GM Paul Holmgren was in no rush to move either Richards or Carter.  Flyers President Ed Snider forced Holmgren to shore up their goaltending and outbid everyone for free agent Ilya Bryzgalov.  Just watch Holmgren try and answer questions regarding the trades of Richards & Carter.

“Jeff Carter is going to be Dustin Penner 2.0!”

Jeff Carter is not Dustin Penner.  Penner relies heavily on his linemates.  He’s not the type of player to carry a line.  He’ll wait in the slot and look for a one-timer.  Jeff Carter can skate, create his own shot, and go hard to the net.  He’s constantly among the NHL leaders in shots.  He’s averaged 337 shots over the past four seasons.  In the past four seasons, no Kings player has approached 300 shots.  Blame the offense!  Blame the coaching!  Blame the system! You have to shoot to score.  Carter does both.  A lot.

“Jack Johnson was having his best season yet!”
Voynov: Already Better Than JJ

The Kings dealt away Jack Johnson.  JJ is in the first year of a self-negotiated 7-year, $30.5 million deal.  If you’ve read my blogs and followed me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m not a JJ fan.  My season review of JJ pretty much sums up my thoughts on him.  Ironically enough, the last sentence read:
With blueline prospects like Muzzin, Voynov, and Hickey all considered offensive defensemen; JJ will need to improve all aspects of his game because with each ill-timed pinch in the offensive zone, JJ's name and 'cap-friendly' $4.35M are inching closer and closer to the rumor mill.
If Slava Voynov didn’t outplay the entire Kings blueline during his stints in Los Angeles this year, the Kings don’t deal Johnson.  The Kings won’t miss Johnson.  Numbers don’t lie.  Don’t even get me started with relative corsi ratings on these two…

Johnson’s stat line (61 GP, 8 G, 16 A, 24 PTs, -12 rating, 14 PPPs, 120 shots, 72 hits). 

Voynov’s stat line (33 GP, 4 G, 7 A, 11 PTs, +4 rating 4 PPPs, 52 shots, 48 hits).

If you pro-rate Voynov’s #’s over 61 games: 7 G, 13 A, 20 PTs, 7 PPPs, 96 shots, 89 hits.  It may end up being a wash.  I think Voynov is actually an upgrade. 

“How could we trade that 1st round pick?!?!”

Yes.  DL doesn’t have a 2nd or 3rd round pick in this year’s draft.  And depending on whether or not the Kings turn this around, he may not have a first rounder either.  DL’s job is on the line and he can’t afford to look ahead anymore.  His time's up.  The Kings aren’t in rebuild mode anymore.  They need to win now.  

DL won this trade by a landslide.  He’s put together a good roster on paper.  They lack speed on the wings but they still play solid team defense and have gotten outstanding goaltending.  DL’s biggest mistake may have been underestimating the loss of Frolov, Handzus, Ponikarovsky, Simmonds, and Smyth over the past two seasons.  Over the pasy couple seasons, the Kings masked their lack of foot speed with size and big bodies that could win battles along the boards on the cycle in the offensive zone.  The Kings don’t have those types of guys anymore.  They've become a team in search of an identity.  The guys that can skate, can't finish.  The guys that have a nose for the net, can't skate quick enough to get there.  

With all that said, DL essentially dealt Jack Johnson, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn & a 1st round pick for Mike Richards & Jeff Carter.  Regardless of whether or not the Kings offense was last in the league, 29 other NHL GMs make that deal in a heartbeat.  With the Kings offense struggling to score goals, this deal is an absolute no-brainer.  With a core of Brown, Kopitar, Doughty, Quick, Richards, and Carter the Kings should be competing for a Stanley Cup this season.  With this deal, I think the Kings made a step in the right direction.

2 comments:

  1. From Philly: Didn't HAVE to move both for Bryz. They're character wasn't challenged by Pronger behind a dark curtain, it was challenged by many fans, and the locker room was split in half. Having watched Carter since he was a rookie, he shows flashes of the player you describe above,..but he disappears for weeks at a time. When he's not getting his shots or scoring, he simply floats up and down the ice non-existent.

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  2. First off, thanks for reading my post.

    I agree they didn't have to move both Richards and Carter but it was pretty clear that they wanted to go in a new direction. Starting with Bryz.

    Chris Pronger was the new leader of that dressing room. Which is pretty much the case wherever he goes whether the entire team is behind him or not. After signing him to that ridiculous 7-year contract, it was crystal clear that he was going to be the new captain of the Flyers. Like I said, Richards was Stevens captain. Pronger was Laviolette's.

    I still think Holmgren only wanted to deal Carter but his hand was forced on Richards by Laviolette & Snider. He knew what Giroux was becoming and was hoping van Riemsdyk would carry over his strong playoff performance into this season.

    I'm fine with Carter's game. The Kings have enough guys that play a solid two-way game. We need a couple guys that are selfish offense only type players who will shoot the puck. Can't wait to see him play tonight.

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