The cost for Carter

Rumors are starting to heat up regarding trades and we are now less than a month away from the February 27 trade deadline. While the rent-a-player will be the most common commodity shopped over the next month, one of the most interesting names being tossed around is Columbus Blue Jackets F Jeff Carter.

Carter is still under contract until 2022 for a respectable cap hit of $5.3 million. For a player with Carter’s skill set his contract may be difficult to move, it’s certainly one that won’t scare away many buyers. What might is the length of the deal and his injury troubles so far this year, but when healthy Carter is one of the elite scorers in the NHL at present time.

Carter was 30 overall in NHL scoring last season with the Philadelphia Flyers playing in 80 games, scoring 36 goals (good for 7 overall) while adding 30 assists for 66 points. His plus 27 was the fifth highest out of any forward in the NHL, so he not only can boost a teams offense but he can help out defensively as well.

Columbus was hoping he would be the center to help F Rick Nash take the next step and become a dominant one two punch on the their top line. Carter has suited up for 30 games this season but with only 10 goals and 17 points and a -9, the Blue Jackets may be looking to move on from the situation.

To acquire the sniper from the Flyers the Blue Jackets gave up their 8 overall pick in last years NHL entry draft that turned out to be F Sean Couturier, a third round pick that turned out to be C Nick Cousins and F Jakob Voracek. So one can expect that the asking price for Jeff Carter may start and end with a first round pick or a highly sought after prospect.

While Columbus has struggled in all aspects, one could argue that their biggest concern would be on the defensive side of things and in net. Only Tampa Bay has allowed more goals (165) in one less game played than the Blue Jackets (163). At the same time they have scored only 115 goals giving them a league high goal differential of -48. Only Ottawa (160) is in a playoff spot with more than 145 goals against but they have 157 goals for.

The top six defencemen in Columbus are: James Wisniewski, Feder Tyutin, Mark Methot, Nikita Nikitin, Aaron Johnson and Grant Clitsome. That’s hardly a defensive core that strikes fear in an opponent and one would assume that the Blue Jackets might be looking to deal Mr. Carter to bolster their blue line.

So while the Jackets gave up a first and third round pick to get Carter, as well as an everyday player, the Blue Jackets will already have a lottery pick in next years draft. I would think they’ll be looking for two players that can jump in and play right away to help this team sooner, rather than later. The other reason why two players would likely be involved is to balance the cap hit as it’s unlikely that Columbus would want to take on another large salary unless it was expiring at season end.

Now there are many teams that could put together packages and there are likely 28 teams in the NHL that have called and inquired about his availability so I’m going to look at this from the Jets perspective. What type of package could Kevin Chevaldayoff put together to land Jeff Carter and bolster its scoring. We know that the Jets are looking to build for the future. Because of that, the length of Carter’s contract is beneficial to Winnipeg. He fits the definition of a number one center with scoring touch, so he is a talented player in a desirable position – that is a big weakness as well.

Factoring in that the Jets would likely be willing to give up some considerable assets to land him. The Jets biggest area of depth is of course on defense. We talked about Johnny Oduya‘s expiring contract and strong play so far this season as a player that could be of interest to some teams at the trade deadline. While he could be involved in a package deal, Columbus is not looking for any rental players so the asking price would likely start with a younger player they can build around. While Paul Postma and Zach Redmond are the biggest prospects on defense for the Jets, one of them would be a great starting point depending if Columbus wants a more offensive defender or a defensive one.

We can assume that Bogosian, Byfuglien and Enstrom are off-limits, but a player like Ron Hainsey could also get some interest as he brings a stabilizing presence to the blue line that Columbus desperately needs. Hainsey has a $4.5 million cap hit with only one year left on his contract after this season so he’d easily balance the salaries. If he was included in the deal the Jackets might also have to include a second roster player with an expiring contract – Kristen Huselius will be an unrestricted free agent – has a $4.75 million cap hit and only played in 2 games this year in December before being placed back on Injured Reserve with a lower body injury.

The last piece of this deal would either have to be a high draft pick or a forward that can play alongside Rick Nash. While we know the Jets have nobody that we’d define as a number one center, but maybe the Jackets can convince Winnipeg to include a player like Alexander Burmistrov. His creativity and defensive responsibility in a young player could be highly sought after. That being said I would be surprised to see Winnipeg trade away Burmistrov. It could be the sticking point. It was said that Philadelphia had offered Mike Richards to them before making a deal with Los Angeles, but their asking price was Evander Kane and that ended those talks rather quickly. Blake Wheeler is most likely the guy you would want feeding Carter the puck and the idea of a Wheeler, Carter, Kane line would give the Jets a bonafide top line. The two forwards that might be available for this deal in my mind would be Brian Little or Nik Antropov, both of whom have the ability to play alongside Rick Nash and get him the puck. Antropov offers the big body and experience, while Little offers youth and a greater upside.

So for the Jets to land Jeff Carter, I see two possible trade packages that would work for both teams.

To Winnipeg
F Jeff Carter
F Kristen Huselius
To Columbus
F Nik Antropov
D Ron Hainsey
D Zach Redmond
To Winnipeg
F Jeff Carter
To Columbus
F Brian Little
D Paul Postma
4th Round Pick

Whether or not a deal between Columbus and Winnipeg takes place is yet to be seen, but one thing for sure is to land a player like Jeff Carter any team will have to give up some good players to land him. What’s interesting is this is the first time in several years that several top young players may be moved, as rumours regarding Anaheim stars Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry won’t go away until Feb 28.

Do you think the Jets will make a play for any of these young stars and if so who do you see the Jets sending back?

Leave your comments below, tweet us @wpg_whiteout or Call us 24 x 7 toll-free at 1.855.321.JETS (1.855.321.5387).

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Jeff Stevenson is a co-founder of and co-host of the popular Jets Hockey Podcast. He grew up in Winnipeg, MB and became very passionate about sports, hockey and the Jets. Now Jeff is proud and honored to help bring news and information about the Winnipeg Jets to fans around the world.