Well, if you were worried that the 2012 trade deadline would be completely firework-free, your fears can be put to rest. (I mean, unless you’re one of those hyper-specific and difficult folks who only count trade deadline day as the trade deadline, of course.)
After firing off a normal-sized bullet in the form of the Antoine Vermette trade, Scott Howson launched one of those screen-dominating Super Mario World bad boys when he sent Jeff Carter to Philadelphia Flyers West (aka the Los Angeles Kings) in exchange for talented – but equally flawed – offensive defenseman Jack Johnson (plus a conditional first-round pick that will either fall in 2012 or 2013).
For those of you who find it easier to digest trades like these in bare list forms, here it is:
Blue Jackets receive:
Jack Johnson, first-round pick in 2012 or 2013
To keep things reasonably tidy and organized, I’ll split my thoughts up by team – and keep it mostly fantasy-related rather than bore you too much with salary cap talk and so on.
A lot of pundits were really down on the Kings' side of this trade; I'm not one of them - although I wonder if it happened too late. I’d guess the widespread negativity is based on a combination of a) the Philly media blowing things out of proportion* and b) the Los Angeles media not really beating up on Johnson at all for whatever flaws he might exhibit (even if they're just of the not-being-that-great-at-actually-playing-defense variety).
The bottom line is that Carter produces remarkably similar numbers to Rick Nash – all things considered – and comes at a much cheaper price. He's had 29, 46, 33 and 36 goals in the last four seasons. If you pro-rated Carter’s 15 goals in an injury-plagued 2011-12 over 82 games, Carter would have a little bit more than 30 this season. (Not bad for a campaign that just about everyone labels as a disaster.)
Carter fires a ton of shots on goal (no less than 319 in any of the last three campaigns) and is likely to slot in on the wing in LA. He should have an easier time adjusting to the Kings’ system because the Flyers influence is heavy in the front office and on the roster, as best buddy Mike Richards and former Philly forwards Simon Gagne and Justin Williams are on hand.
Carter has his flaws, though. The thing that separates Rick Nash and his former teammate is injury issues – Carter’s season has been marred by bad health more than his supposed bad attitude. (It doesn't help that Los Angeles has become the place where hockey offense goes to die, either.)
My stance is that losing Jack Johnson won’t hurt the Kings’ offense as much as expected because they’re deep on defense in just about every way. That's not to say it won't be a step back, but it won't be as big of a loss as some expect. My guess is that Slava Voynov will be the big winner in the offensive defenseman category – unless Darryl Sutter sours on him and goes with someone like Alec Martinez instead. Both are worth a spot on your short-term watch list.
* - I think Carter’s alleged character issues aren't any worse than anything Carey Price or anything Patrick Kane and John Madden did in a limo. They're victims of people who breached cell phone/general private photo etiquette and that's all. But that's just my opinion.
BLUE JACKETS’ PERSPECTIVE
Considering how depressed Carter was about going to the terrible Blue Jackets franchise, it stands as very good news that Jack Johnson seems enthusiastic about the move, claiming that he’s a “Midwesterner at heart.” (I'd imagine Dean Lombardi's criticisms matter just as much as Johnson's upbringing, but that's just me.)
He’s coming to a team that’s a mess, and with James Wisniewski banged up, Johnson should be the go-to guy for at least the rest of this season. Ask any Johnson enthusiast how he played when Drew Doughty was banged up/off his game and they’ll gladly volunteer praise that JJ upped his game. In other words, I wouldn't drop Johnson by any means.
Over the long haul, it seems like Wisniewski and Johnson have redundant talents, although there’s plenty of room on the power play for the both of them. (You might wanna just give up the plus/minus when it comes to Johnson in Columbus, though.)
Overall I’d say that I like the Kings’ takeaway more, although I will say that Scott Howson got about as much as one could have hoped for Carter considering the fact that it was common knowledge that he wanted out.
(Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Blue Jackets are still fielding offers for Rick Nash, so there could still be at least one more blockbuster before the fun stops Monday.)
CANUCKS SPOIL RED WINGS’ FUN
Detroit Red Wings fans have it about as good as any fan base in North American sports – if not sports leagues all over the world – but all those opportunities likely spawn some “What if?” moments. Thursday presented such an occasion as Detroit coughed up three one-goal leads against the Vancouver Canucks, who ended the Red Wings’ NHL-record 23-game winning streak with a 4-3 shootout decision.
The most dramatic moment happened when Daniel Sedin scored the game-tying goal on a slap shot with just 16 seconds left and the Canucks’ net empty. Some will quibble about a somewhat controversial icing call, but the bottom line is that Vancouver added a little spice to what could develop into a compelling rivalry if the two top seeds meet in the 2012 playoffs.
On the bright side – and of moderate interest to fantasy owners in need of D – Kyle Quincey scored a goal in his Red Wings return. It’s hard to tell if he’ll get a sufficient opportunity to really put up great numbers, but he’s put up some solid stats before. Keep an eye on the guy.
ANDERSON’S ODD INJURY
If I’m Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, I might invest in a chaperone for Craig Anderson. Right as he was starting to pair a season's worth of useful wins with actual solid individual stats - he's currently undefeated in four games - the franchise netminder cut his hand on Thursday, putting him out indefinitely. This is the second time in the last two seasons that Anderson suffered an odd injury as he hurt himself in warm-ups when he was still with the Colorado Avalanche in 2010-11.
Alex Auld’s carried the load a bit in his career, but if Anderson’s injury is somewhat significant, then don’t be surprised if Murray makes a few calls for a reasonably priced backup. (Maybe Josh Harding, Curtis Sanford or someone of that ilk?)
The good news is that the Sens have a few days before the deadline to determine how bad Anderson’s injury might be. Either way, it’s weird, but it least it happened before Feb. 27.
The Winnipeg Jets probably won’t hold the spot for long since the Florida Panthers (four games) and the Washington Capitals (three) have far more games in hand, but it’s still bizarre that they’re the No. 1 team in the Southeast Division right now … Mike Smith got another win as the Phoenix Coyotes are as hot as any team in the NHL … Niklas Backstrom seems to be heating up right as the Minnesota Wild’s hopes were fading. It won’t be easy, but don’t count the Wild out altogether … Corey Perry hit the 30-goal mark as the Ducks finished a challenging road trip with 12 out of 16 possible points … It looks like Antti Niemi might have his act together again … Devan Dubnyk stopped all 35 of the Philadelphia Flyers’ shots last night … My money is on the Calgary Flames to take the Kings’ playoff spot because of a favorable schedule, but don’t count out the Stars, who beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 … P.K. Subban bickered with a teammate again on Thursday. Not many pests annoy their teammates almost as much as opponents, but Subban might fill the bill.
Jonathan Toews’ bad times continue. During the same week that concussion rumors swirled, he got into a car crash. Word is that he didn’t injure himself there, but we shall see. Either way, bad times right now for Toews … Sidney Crosby practiced rigorously, allegedly. (Sigh.) … The Hurricanes hope that Cam Ward will practice on Friday. They’d be inane to rush him back, honestly … Curtis Glencross seems like he’s on the verge of a return … Erik Johnson is day-to-day with back issues. (Click here for the full injury list.)