Jeff Carter Demands Trade?

Two NHL sources, including RDS’ Renaud Lavoie, are reporting that Columbus Blue Jackets’ center Jeff Carter has demanded a trade. Nevertheless, Carter’s agent Rick Curran has denied the rumors.

Carter arrived in Columbus over the summer in a blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia Flyers which landed the rights to Jakub Voracek and the eighth pick in the 2011 draft (Sean Couturier) in Philadelphia. The Blue Jackets have been seeking a center to play with superstar right wing Rick Nash ever since they drafted Nash. Carter was a curious choice because he typically prefers to shoot first, and he has never been known as an adept passer.

Through seven games with the Blue Jackets, Carter registered only three assists in seven games. He missed seven games earlier this season with a broken foot. In addition he also missed time in the 2010 and 2011 playoffs due to a broken foot, so he is developing a reputation for being “injury prone.”

By comparison, Voracek has three goals and nine assists in 17 games, and Couturier has five goals and three assists in 17 games. Voracek has been improving of late, and he has earned time on the point on the Flyers’ top power play unit. Couturier has quickly developed into one of the best young penalty killers in the game. The defensively responsible center is leading the Flyers with a plus-7 rating

The Blue Jackets own the NHL’s worst record at 3-13-1. Their goal differential is immense as they’ve scored 38 goals (only the Islanders, who have played two less games, have scored less) and have allowed 64 goals (only Carolina, 67 in 19 games, and Ottawa, 66 in 19 games, have allowed more).

In fairness, Carter has not had adequate time to develop chemistry with Nash; his contract may prove difficult to move as it runs through the spring of 2022 at an average annual value of just over $5.2 million.

Blue Jackets’ General Manager Scott Howson, head coach Scott Arniel, and captain Rick Nash convinced Carter to come to Columbus (they came to his house at the Jersey shore to coax him into going to Columbus with them). Now, they may have to put another sales job on their downtrodden center.

Assuming that the conclusion of meetings with Carter and Curran is irreconcilable differences the most likely trading partners would be teams with ample cap space (or an expensive star to flip) and a need to sell a young star to their fanbase. Rumors have linked the Toronto Maple Leafs to Carter for several years. In order to complete a trade for Carter, the Leafs would need to relinquish about $4 million cap space.

Other potential options may include Colorado (over $15 million in available cap space and a young nucleus for growth), Long Island (Islanders have over $14 million in available cap space and a need to sell a young team to their fans while trying to build a new arena), and Ottawa, which would put Carter closer to his home (London, Ontario).

Perhaps Carter made his request out of frustration, and he will relent in the upcoming days. The rumors may not be even true. If he is adamant in his wish, however; then the Blue Jackets will have to deal with yet another crisis in a season which may already be lost.