Why Jeff Carter Isn’t the Right Guy for the Maple Leafs
(Terry Gilliam/Associated Press)
By Lukas Hardonk (@LukasHardonk)
It’s that time of year in the National Hockey League again. The trade deadline is about one month away, meaning just about every general manager in the league is working the phones and trade rumours are not only beginning to pick up, but they are also beginning to gain some traction.
The usual statement is being said all around Toronto: The Maple Leafs need a top-six player who can put the puck in the net and beat the opposition along with boards with size and athleticism. As well, names are being thrown around as potential targets at or before the deadline.
This year’s crop of players rumoured to be on Brian Burke’s list of targets includes Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, James van Riemsdyk, Rick Nash and his Columbus teammate, Jeff Carter. While all five of those players are certainly talented and have the ability to lead a team offensively, not all of them would be a good fit in Toronto.
The worst option of the five is one that many people seem to think would be a nice addition to the Leafs’ roster: Jeff Carter. There is no doubt that he can produce when surrounded by good players, as proven by 33, 36 and 46 goal seasons while he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
In Toronto, he would, in all likelihood, centre a line between two players who will participate in this weekend’s All-Star festivities in Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. True, a line of Lupul-Carter-Kessel could potentially be one of the most dangerous in the league, but that doesn’t mean the Leafs would be smart to acquire the 27-year-old Blue Jacket.
No. 1 – Carter’s massive contract
While a centre for the Flyers, Carter signed a huge 11-year, $58 million contract extension. Due to the insanely long term and large amount of money, Carter is locked into the deal until 2022 at an annual cap hit of just over $5.272 million.
In the past, Brian Burke has made it clear that he has no interest whatsoever in signing a player to that type of contract or acquiring one who is already on that type of contract. In reality, why are people even thinking that this is a player who might find himself in a Leaf uniform come February 27 at 3 pm EST?
Leaf fans should be happy that Burke doesn’t want to do something like this. As we’ve seen in the past, these contracts can essentially ruin where a team sits in terms of salary, whether long-term injury is taken into consideration or not. Just do a quick Google search of Rick DiPietro, Marc Savard and Alexei Yashin.
The moral of the story: Acquiring Carter may be one of the worst trades that the Leafs could make, solely based on his contract.
No. 2 – This year’s production
With 10 goals and seven assists in 30 games, Carter isn’t even close to matching his normal career numbers this season. Those statistics put him on pace for a 35-point season, which would be his worst season yet. Match that up with his minus-9 rating and you get a player who just isn’t focused enough to produce this season.
Perhaps that would change with a new team, but is it really worth taking the risk? The asking price for Carter is going to be quite high; possibly a top-six forward and a relatively high draft pick. For a team that is lacking picks for the 2012 Entry Draft and that is looking to add to its top-six forward group, giving up that kind of package for a guy that you don’t know what to expect from makes no sense whatsoever.
No. 3 – Attitude
As you may recall, it took Carter four days to finally say something about being dealt to the Blue Jackets following the trade. When he finally did, Carter claimed that the decision not to speak was nothing against the Blue Jackets.
“My decision to not talk had absolutely nothing to do with being traded to Columbus,” he said. “I know it’s a team that has struggled in the past, but there’s a great future there, a lot of young players. I’m excited to be there.”
Following the trade, more reports came out of Philadelphia in reference to Carter and Mike Richards, who the team had also moved on the same day. This time, it was suggested that Carter had been a problem in the dressing room, electing to go out and party along with Richards during a team-instituted motion referred to as Dry Island.
It’s tough to judge the attitude of a person that you have never been around, but acquiring a player who has been accused of these sorts of actions on multiple occasions has to be considered a risk.
Follow Lukas on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage.