When one national writer connects a contending team with a trade candidate, it’s simply speculation. When three link the two in the span of a few days, there is usually something to it. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggested that the Boston Bruins could be a possible destination for Los Angeles Kings veteran center Jeff Carter in his latest “31 Thoughts” segment.
The same day, The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa published an entire piece on Carter’s ideal fit in Boston. His colleague, Craig Custance, also wrote about how the best blueprint for a rebuild in L.A. could be to emulate the Bruins, who recouped picks and young players in 2015 by trading away Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, but largely leaving their core intact. This time around, could Carter be in Lucic’s shoes with the Bruins and Kings swapping roles? It’s looking like a real possibility.
The logic behind a Carter deal is obvious for the Kings. L.A. sits in last place in the NHL, with just 24 points through 33 games. The team is far older than they would like to be given their struggles and, as Custance suggests, would benefit greatly from moving out a handful of veterans to inject youth and potential into the roster along with a solid core of Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick. It is no surprise that TSN’s most recent Trade Bait list features Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin at No. 2, Carter at No. 5, and Alec Martinez at No. 16.
Although Carter, still a capable offensive player, has three years remaining on his contract beyond this season at a remarkably reasonable $5.27MM cap hit and even lower salary, he is also 35 years old and is unlikely to improve in the years it could take for L.A. to return to the postseason. The Kings would be able to add some impressive young pieces in exchange for Carter, kick-starting their rebuild. TSN’s Frank Servalli warns that Carter could use the threat of retirement to decide on his destination, but he would be unlikely to turn down the opportunity to end his career with a contender like Boston.