LA Kings veteran forward Jeff Carter was traded to Pittsburgh, now they are leaders in the East Division

Carter leaves a legacy, and will be missed by the fans and team

It's been two weeks since LA Kings veteran forward Jeff Carter was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a third-round draft pick in 2022 and a fourth-rounder in 2023 and the Penguins are continuing to breathe a sigh of relief. They are now leading the East Division, while the Kings are occupying the seventh position in the West. Only four top teams in each division make it to the playoffs, so the Kings will have to do some serious scratching and clawing to make it in.

Given the fact that the Penguins had basically no resources to leverage for a trade, you have to applaud them for making this important transaction. Carter was performing well with the Kings this season and the 36-year-old, two-time Stanley Cup Champion has plenty left in the tank. That's why Penguins general manager Ron Hextall and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke signed him through next season as well. They both deserve a lot of credit.

Carter seems to be a perfect fit for the third-line of the Penguins, while the Kings continue the rebuild process with their young players, a work in progress.

While he can be a shoot-first type of player with a 46 goal track record, the London, Ontario native has an exceptionally high hockey-IQ that will benefit the Penguins lineup. Not only is Carter a center, but he also has experience playing on the wing, so he could provide Evgeni Malkin some punch from the right side along with Kasperi Kapanen. This is the type of versatility the Penguins needed heading into the postseason.

It also doesn't hurt that Carter is an old friend of Sidney Crosby as the two have played on the international stage together.

With this trade, Hextall and Burke indicated that they are in a "win-now" mode and were also shrewd because the Kings retained half of Carter's salary. The Penguins were essentially handcuffed when it came to the salary cap, so by adding the additional draft pick in 2023, it convinced Kings general manager Rob Blake to retain over $2.6 million of Carter's cap hit. And while his cap hit may be $5.27 million for next season, he's actually only owed $2 million in real cash, so that takes some of the burden off of Penguins ownership.

The trade does include some conditions. One of them being that if the Penguins end up making it to the Stanley Cup Final and Carter plays in at least half of the games, the third-round pick becomes a second-round pick, which is good for the Kings.

The Penguins are a better team now than they were two weeks ago because their new management dynamic duo took a gamble on a proven winner in Carter.

But Carter leaves a great legacy in LA. Since being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets by the Kings during the 2011-12 season, he ranked second on the Kings in goals (194), third in points (383), fourth in assists (189), first in power-play goals (57), first in game-winning goals (44) and first in OT goals (11). He is also tied for 10th on the Kings all-time scoring list and first in OT goals.

The Kings and their fans are grateful to Carter for his accomplishments and he will be sorely missed, but the Penguins organization are hoping he's able to find room in his trophy case for a couple more Cups.


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