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Should the Flyers trade for Jeff Carter?

This would certainly be spicy.

Los Angeles Kings v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

As the Flyers prepared to take on the Los Angeles Kings in the final game of their season series Saturday night, I came across an interesting article from NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall:

The Flyers reacquiring a prized player from years past? That would be very, very spicy, and also would be nothing new to Flyers fans. The Flyers have traded and then reacquired Simon Gagne, R.J. Umberger, Mike Knuble, and most recently, James Van Riemsdyk.

Interestingly enough, Carter himself commented on the rumors when asked by NBCSP’s Taryn Hatcher:

It’s no surprise that Jeff Carter would like playing in Los Angeles, having won two Stanley Cups there and nearing the twilight of his career. However, with two additional years on his contract and no clauses giving him veto power on any trade, if the Kings want to trade Carter he won’t have much say in the matter.

So should the Flyers try and make this work?

Personally, my answer is a resounding... eh, maybe.

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

In order for this trade to make any sense, the Flyers would have to receive considerable concessions from the Kings on the part of Carter’s contract, primarily a retention of salary. As I mentioned, Carter (minus this current season, 2019-20) has two more years on his contract which runs through the 2021-22 season, where he will be 37 years old.

The AAV on those years is $5.27 million dollars, which would be a hefty price to pay for an aging goalscoring winger. The good news is that if the Kings truly want to move on from him and go for an all-out rebuild, they’ll likely retain some of Carter’s salary. To evaluate what we could expect in that, I’d turn to two older players who were traded around the deadline, Tomas Plekanec and Jarome Iginla (2017). These two players had cap hits of $6.0 million and $5.3 million respectively when they were traded, and in both cases, 50% of their salaries were retained by the selling club. Half or slightly less seems to be the standard for retaining salary for older players, so therefore we can assume that the Flyers would get Jeff Carter on a $2.635 million dollar cap hit, which is far more manageable.

In terms of what the Flyers would have to give up for Carter, if past examples are anything to go off of, it won’t be to difficult of a deal to swing:

Comparable Trades

Team A Team B
Team A Team B
Tomas Plekanec, Kyle Baun Rinat Valiev, Kerby Rychel, 2018 2nd round pick
Jarome Iginla 2018 Conditional 4th round pick

Both Valiev and Rychel were decent prospects at the time of being traded, nothing special but they still had a semblance of value. It would appear to be that some combination of a mid-tier prospect or two, plus perhaps a draft pick, would secure Carter’s services; think something along the lines of two of either Wade Allison, Jay O’Brien, Mason Millman, or perhaps even an AHLer like Maxim Sushko, plus a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

If the potential details of the move are as such, I would easily pull the trigger. Though Carter only has 23 points in 50 games (though still 14 goals), the Kings have struggled all season, and I’m confident that Carter would perform better on a team that isn’t in the basement of their conference. In addition, for such a struggling team, Carter still somewhat drives play, with a Corsi-for of 51.67% at 5-on-5. According to Daily Faceoff’s rankings, Carter is the 58th best center in the NHL, which for a player you’d be putting in the bottom six is not bad at all.

Yet, despite this, there still exists the caveat of making room for Carter. The Flyers are only making this move if they know that Nolan Patrick’s status is still up in the air. Patrick managed to skate yesterday, working with Flyers’ skill coach Angelo Ricci, and Chuck Fletcher has been positive in answering questions about Patrick, and expects Patrick to return to action this season.

However, let’s say for argument’s sake that Patrick will be out for the rest of the season, and the Flyers do decide to make a move for Jeff Carter. According to Cap Friendly, at this moment the Flyers have $1,332,368 left in cap space. In order to fit Carter’s cap hit (with the salary retention), the Flyers will have to clear around $1.302 million from the current roster.

There are ways to do it that make sense. Removing Tyler Pitlick and Robert Hagg would create enough room for Carter, and a cheaper option on defense such as Mark Friedman would not push the Flyers over their cap allowance. However, I am skeptical that both Pitlick and Hagg, who are both very much “hockey man” type players, would be so easily removed from the equation.

In summary, there are circumstances in which making a move for Jeff Carter makes sense, however, it has to be nearly perfect. The Flyers can’t afford to lose a deal for a 35 year old goal scorer, neither can they afford to compound upon their already difficult salary cap situation. As much as I, and I’m sure many of you out there, would love to see Carter back in a Flyers’ uniform due to the nostalgia, we can’t let that cloud the reality of this current season and the future of the franchise. If Carter is going to be a Flyer again, it sure has to be worth the trade.