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Jackets Trade Jeff Carter to Kings for Jack Johnson

(2/24/12) And the dominoes start tumbling in Columbus.  Yesterday it was Antoine Vermette who was shipped off to Phoenix, and now an even bigger name is packing his bags.  The Jackets traded Jeff Carter to the Kings on Thursday in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick.  

Who got the better deal?  We'll give the edge to the Blue Jackets in the long-term, with the first rounder tipping the scales.  And if L.A. misses the playoffs, the Kings will be a pretty big loser in the deal.  But seriously, who cares?  Let's talk about how the trade affects the fantasy landscape. 

Carter arrives in L.A. to play with a better cast of characters than he had around him in Columbus, but let's not get carried away.  The Kings are actually the lowest scoring team in the NHL, even behind the Blue Jackets, and their power play is 27th overall.  With stats like that, it's obvious why Carter was brought in.  

He definitely knows how to put the puck in the net, having scored 115 goals over the last three seasons, and his presence should indeed result in more scoring for the Kings.  Looking only at the stats, we expect Carter will help the fantasy production of Kopitar, Richards, Doughty and company, more so than Carter will be benefit in return.

At the same time, stats don't tell the whole story.  It's no secret that Carter was unhappy in Columbus - his numbers attest to that - and moving to L.A. must feel like he's been released from prison.  We expect to see a bump in production based on attitude alone, and something tells us this situation is a good fit from a fantasy perspective.  A lot of people are speculating that Carter will have immediate chemistry on a line with former teammate Mike Richards, although it's worth noting the pair didn't actually play together with the Flyers.  And it's too early to say exactly how the Kings will shuffle the forward rotation, but the addition of Carter gives them the ability to ice two potent lines, and it definitely makes their power play far more dangerous.  Regardless how it all shakes out, expect Carter and his new teammates to benefit in the fantasy realm.

As for the players left in Columbus, we'd get off that train at the nearest stop.  By the time the fire sale is over, the Jackets will pretty much be back to square one as an expansion franchise, and there won't be anyone left worth owning anyway.  Maybe whatever skeleton crew is left to man the top line can scrape together some production by default, but don't expect much.  

And for Jack Johnson, we still like him as a player - he's a strong number two NHL blue-liner with good offensive skills - but being in Columbus isn't going to help his production.  The most positive spin we can put on it is that he's already having a down year offensively, so his numbers don't have far to fall.  The same can't be said for his keeper value though, as Columbus is about to become a fantasy graveyard where points will be tough to come by for the next several years.  Then again, it's not certain that Nash will be moved, and the Blue Jackets are flush with picks to re-stock the cupboards, so there is at least some faint hope for Johnson owners to cling to.