Saturday, June 11, 2011

Should Rangers Get In On Jeff Carter Trade Talks?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The New York Rangers are in need of top line offensive talent to go with Marian Gaborik.  It is rare to be able to get that kind of player either through trades or free agency.  We all know that Brad Richards is out there and the Rangers will look to sign him come July 1.  With Richards wanting upwards of 7 seasons at $7 million per one has to wonder if dealing for a top line player might also be something to consider. One player who has the credentials as top line player that could be forced into the trade market due to his team’s cap problems is Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia Flyers.  There are murmurs of him being connected to the Columbus Blue Jackets (built around Voracek and #8 pick), though there have been Carter trade rumors before.  If that is the projected cost for trading for Jeff Carter, should the Rangers attempt to get involved in the trade discussion?

Carter, 26, has put up 29+ goals in each of the last four seasons and 60+ points in each of the last three years.  Carter is an elite goal scorer in a league where consistent scoring is becoming harder and harder to find.  For years he has been looked at as a one-way player, but he was vastly improved on the defensive side of the puck this season.  He is not going to win a Selke or anything of the sort, but to call him a one-way player would be a disservice to the work he has put in to improve his defensive abilities.   

He is not going to be a physical player so his fit in the new Tortorella system is something that could be an issue, but this team needs skill and Carter has the ability to both play off and create space for Marian Gaborik.  Beyond what he can do for the likes of Gaborik at even strength, Carter can make the Rangers significantly more dangerous with the man advantage as well.  Carter has accounted for 39 power play goals and 42 power play assists in the past four seasons.  

Other than the sheer unlikeliness of the Flyers and Rangers making a trade with one another, the main concerns with a trade for Carter revolve around what he will cost.  The cost for Carter will be high both in assets and taking on his contract.  His contract has a reasonable cap hit of $5.27 million, but it is for 11 years and runs until he is 37 years old.  That is a problem, but one more for down the road than right now when you consider that Richards wants to be paid until approximately the same age with the difference being that Carter still has his prime ahead of him while Richards is past his. 

In terms of assets, one would imagine an extremely high price to acquire a talent like Carter.  Given the salary cap problems for the Flyers, it is likely that the package would be centered around young NHL talent and/or prospects starting with the likes of Michael Del Zotto or Chris Kreider.

In the end the combination of the length of Carter’s contract, the cost to acquire him in assets and the fact that it would be Rangers trading with Flyers it is unlikely that the Rangers make the move for Jeff Carter.  Regardless of that, this is the kind of talent the Rangers need to be looking to acquire.  If the Flyers deal Carter, even to make room for a Bryzgalov contract, it would be a benefit to the Rangers because regardless of the Flyers depth up front they have few if anyone that can match Carter’s skill.  I would look for Philly to trade other players to fix their cap situation before they give up on Carter, but if he is on the market the Rangers should at least attempt to kick the tires.