Reports began surfacing on Wednesday from TSN's Darren Dreger (backed up by the Dispatch's Aaron Portzline), that the Blue Jackets were not only listening to offers for center Jeff Carter, but that they were actively shopping him.
Obviously, this is a huge development, as just seven months ago, Carter was touted as the top-line center the Blue Jackets had never had.
Despite being a former All-Star, and three-time 30-goal scorer—not to mention 27 years old, moving Carter might be easier said than done for Columbus.
First off, he is under contract until the 2021-22 season. Put another way, his contract still has ten more years on it…after this season. It’s not impossible to trade that contract (see Brian Campbell), but it certainly makes things more difficult.
Secondly, Carter has been through a couple different injuries this season, missing 10 games with a broken foot earlier this year, one game with an ankle injury, and has been out the past eight with a separated shoulder.
Furthermore, Carter doesn’t have exactly the best reputation, although we don’t know where the truth really lies. Then there was the as quickly refuted notion that Carter wanted to be traded from Columbus earlier in the season. He was also deliberate in his response to the initial news that he had been dealt to the Blue Jackets back in June, and some feared his silence and anger were a sign he didn’t want to play here in the first place.
No matter, there has to be a bit of a “damaged goods” label for a player as talented as Carter to be shopped just seven months after he was acquired by a team that had a desperate need for him.
All of those factors mean that trading Carter isn’t as simple as notifying the other 29 teams he is available and then letting the auction begin.
If he is dealt, what will the return be? I don’t think it will be close to what the Flyers got for him in June, when Columbus sent Jakub Voracek, the 8th overall pick in the 2011 Draft (Philadelphia took Sean Couturier), and a third rounder as well (center Nick Cousins).
So, peeling back the layers of the onion further, do the Blue Jackets want to trade Carter because of some combination of him not wanting to be here, or the Jackets organization not wanting him around? I can’t imagine so. While 30 games is a decent sample size, this season has been such an utter failure that you can’t draw a complete conclusion.
More likely, the front office has decided that in order to facilitate a major overhaul of the roster, something significant will have to be sacrificed. The options for a decent return would be Rick Nash, Ryan Johansen, the first round pick in 2012, and Carter.
While it isn’t 100% certain that Nash won’t be traded, the CBJ captain has said he wants to be here, and the club wants him here. Factor in Nash’ no-movement clause, and unless there’s a deal that Columbus can’t turn down for him, I don’t see Nash being moved.
Ryan Johansen is the future of this club. He has had rookie struggles like everyone, but you can see the signs of a very good player. He’s often compared to the Sharks’ Joe Thornton, who as a rookie (one year younger than Johansen is now) scored 3-4-7 in 55 games with the Bruins. Johansen has 9-8-17 in 42 games this season, which projects to 15-13-28 for the year. Thornton was a point-per-game player by his fourth season…you see where I’m going with this.
Under no circumstance should the Blue Jackets move the first round pick. It’s most likely going to be the first overall pick, and at worst should be second or third. Columbus can select a future impact player with this pick, another building block to go with Johansen.
So, that leaves Carter.
Here’s another monkey wrench in the plans to trade Carter. What if Columbus can’t get anything decent in return? How do you convince a guy who you are now trying to move that you are thrilled to still have him around?
Okay, so the Blue Jackets’ season has been abysmal. It’s been anything by boring, though, and the real excitement is just beginning.