EDMONTON -- Jeff Carter and Mike Richards are one again.
After weeks of rumblings, the Blue Jackets finally declared the Carter Experiment in Columbus a failure on the eight-month anniversary of acquiring him.
Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson sent Carter to Los Angeles, a team desperately in need of scoring, on Thursday night in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick. The first rounder is conditional: if Los Angeles makes the playoffs this season, it is in 2013. If they do not, Columbus can choose from either 2012 or 2013.
The deal hinges upon Carter passing a physical exam on Friday.
Carter, 27, put up just 15 goals and 10 assists in 39 painfully awkward games in Columbus.
Both Columbus and Los Angeles swapped long-term contracts. Carter is playing in the first season of an 11-year, $58 million deal that was given to him by the Flyers in Nov. 2010. Johnson, 25, is in the first year of a 7-year, $30.5 million deal.
The Kings are by far the NHL’s worst offensive team, with just 129 goals scored through Wednesday night’s action. They entered Thursday night’s action with a one point lead on the West’s final playoff spot, trying to save GM Dean Lombardi’s job. If the pressure wasn't on Lombardi before, it certainly is now, with his future likely hinging on this deal.
"Jeff is a proven goal scorer in our league," Lombardi said in a statement. "He brings goal-scoring abilities, speed, and at his age, he is entering the prime of his career."
Make no mistake: Lombardi is banking on Carter's friendship with Richards. He's hoping the two can rekindle the former 46-goal scorer's swagger.
And now, Carter and Richards are reunited on the West Coast - a full 2,500 miles from Philadelphia - in a laid-back hockey environment that will support their well-chronicled off-ice adventures near the beach. The "Old City gang" has now become the "Manhattan Beach brew crew."
"I am obviously excited," Carter said in a statement. "I am familiar with the team and a lot of guys on the team ... I looked at the Kings at the start of the year as being a club in a good position to win."
Richards, who has less points and goals than Wayne Simmonds - one of his trade counterparts - this season, said last week that him and Carter still speak at least 3 or 4 times per week.
“I talk to him probably three or four times a week,” Richards told reporters. “It’s one of those things where people have a lot of pressure. It’s a business, as I learned in the summertime, and there’s a lot of pressure on people to make the right moves.”
Adding Carter to Los Angeles just fortifies the organization's ties with Philadelphia even more. Former head coach John Stevens, assistant GM Ron Hextall, Simon Gagne, and Justin Williams are already there. Former head coach Terry Murray was fired in December.
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