FanPost

Why the Caps Should Trade for Jeff Carter

This is my first Fan Post so try and be gentle. :)

The "Problem":

It has been discussed repeatedly over the past 2-3 years that the Caps need a legit 2nd line center. This role has been stop-gapped with the likes of Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson, Mattieu Perrault, Jason Arnott, and Eric Belanger to name but a few. The problem is none of these guys are legitimate 2nd line centers.

While it can be argued that Marcus Johansson is the Caps 2nd line center "of the future", he's not ready for this duty yet.

The Solution:

Jeff Carter.

Jeff Carter is a big, borderline elite natural center. Drafted in 2003 as the 11th overall pick by the Philadelphia Flyers, in his first six years with the Flyers he amassed 181 goals and 162 assists in 461 games. He played in 82 games two years, 81 in one year, 80 in another year, 74, and 62 games. He had a positive +/- rating in 5 of the 6 years he was with Philadelphia.

Carter was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and has had injuries this season, limiting him to 31 games, where he has 11 goals and 7 assists on a very bad CBJ team.

Columbus is sitting in last place in the Western Conference and all rumors point to them being sellers with Jeff Carter on the trade block.

The Capitals should make a play for Carter as he will solve the 2nd line center problem the Caps have for years to come. The only problem with Carter is his contract. Carter makes $5,272,727 annually against the salary cap, and will continue to do so until 2022. So the Capitals would have to move a contract or two in order to free up salary cap space needed for Carter's contract. This shouldn't be a huge problem, however, as simply trading Semin for picks would free up $6.7 million.

Columbus gave up Voracek, a first round pick, and a second round pick to get Carter and it should take less than this to get Carter. As they are rebuilding, they would likely want picks/prospects in return for Carter. The Caps have picks in this years draft they could use in a trade with Columbus for Carter and a lot of prospects that could be potential trade bait.

Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch speculates ($) that if Nash goes on the market [NOTE: highly unlikely], the cost would be a "top young player, a prospect and a first-round pick." If it would take a top young player, a prospect, and a first-round pick to get Nash, it would certainly take less than that to land Carter (perhaps a prospect, a 2nd and 3rd).

As noted, the Capitals would have to move a contract or two on the current roster in order to free up salary cap space for Carter's contract. Simply trading Semin ($6.7 million) for picks (which could be sent to Columbus) to another team would free up the space needed for Carter's contract and would leave about $1.5 million that could be used to resign one of the Caps RFA/UFA contracts and Carter's production would likely come close to replacing Semin's production. They are many other scenarios that could be imagined so I don't think Carter's cap hit would be a huge problem to overcome provided the Caps are willing to give up one player (Semin) or multiple players for picks.

Carter Trade Upsides:

Big, borderline elite natural center

Productive (30-40 goal scorer)

Not a defensive liability

Shouldn't have to give up a lot to get him

Would likely have to trade Semin for picks to make room for Carter's contract*

Carter Trade Downside:

Contract length

Health (?)

Would likely have to trade Semin for picks to make room for Carter's contract*

Landing Carter would give the Caps three long-term contracts totaling about $22 million

*yes, this could be taken as a upside or downside

Possibly Trade Scenario:

1) Trade Semin to another contender looking for a top-6 forward for picks/prospects (Kings?)

2) Trade picks + prospect to Columbus for Carter

End result: we get SOME value for Semin before he enters UFA at the end of the season and remove his $6.7 million cap hit. We lose some combination of picks/prospect(s) for Carter. As long as we don't acquire any other roster players in these moves, we end up with $1.5 million LESS cap hit (which can be used to either acquire someone else or in re-signing a current roster player), no net change in roster contracts, and acquire a borderline elite, 30-40 goal scoring natural center.

Conclusion:

Despite the potential downsides, the biggest being adding another long-term contract, trading for Carter is something the Caps can (in terms of having the picks/prospects needed) and should do because a legitimate second line center is a need the Caps cannot continue to avoid addressing. Carter would fill this need admirably and in my opinion, the upsides to making this move outweigh the downsides. And as an added bonus, until Backstrom is healthy, Carter would be a better first line center replacement than Perrault or Johansson.

Making this trade happen likely comes down to one question: Which is a better investment/more valuable to your long-term success as a team?

A) a $6.7 million, inconsistent and enigmatic 30-40 goal scoring winger, who is an UFA at the end of the season, and likely won't sign a multi-year deal

or

B) a $5.27 million, 30-40 goal scoring center on a long-term contract?

For the Caps, I would argue that B) is a better investment and more valuable to their long-term success.


If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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