Penguins add a veteran, Stanley Cup winning forward from the Kings

Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins made their first trade before Monday’s trade deadline, adding forward Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles King in exchange for future draft picks

After being linked to a trade for Anaheim’s Nicolas Deslauriers earlier Sunday, TSN insider Bob McKenzie tweeted his speculation that Carter could end up in Pittsburgh after the Penguins and Kings had begun discussions shortly after the Pens’ win over the New Jersey Devils.

The Penguins officially confirmed the deal very early Tuesday morning, announcing the acquisition of Carter (with 50% of his salary retained) for a 2022 third round draft pick and a 2023 fourth round draft pick.

With 50% of his $5.27 million cap hit being retained by the Kings, Carter will only cost roughly $2.64 million against the cap. That’s not bad at all for a third line center of his pedigree.

At 36 years old now, the parallels to Jarome Iginla in 2012 and Patrick Marleau last season are too similar to ignore, but Carter clearly has some gas in the tank. Especially as a role player for the Penguins.

Carter, a center by trade, has played almost exclusively as a winger for the Kings this season. According to Daily Faceoff, he’s played mainly on the Kings’ second line with Andreas Athanasiou and Blake Lizotte.

More from Pens Labyrinth

Capable of playing either center or winger, all across the top-nine, Carter presents the Penguins with some flexibility. If the Pens envision him as a winger, he could slot into a spot on the second line with Evgeni Malkin. If he’s envisioned as a center, the third line could be his to center.

With eight goals and 11 assists in 40 games this season, Carter isn’t the same 40-goal scorer from his younger days. However, he’s still capable of playing top-nine minutes and receiving time on the second power play unit.

In a tad over 16 minutes of ice time per game, with a 55.4 oZS%, Carter’s 50.9 CF% is encouraging — his 1.9 relative Corsi is even more encouraging. With more talent around him in Pittsburgh, he could be due for a boost in scoring.

And, of course, his championship pedigree and leadership will be a major factor discussed in the days to come. For good reason, too.

If needed, Carter could likely play with Sidney Crosby, but he’s likely going to serve as a middle-six forward. Carter on the left wing with Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen would be an intriguing fit for the hard shooting Carter.

However, despite his lack of center time this season, his best fit would probably be with Jason Zucker and Evan Rodrigues/Brandon Tanev (depending on if you want to keep the turbo line together) on the third line.

While both of those options have upside, the truly good news is that Carter has options. He’s a puzzle piece that can be fit into the big picture in a couple of ways. That should excite the Penguins.

Carter isn’t going to be a savior, and the Penguins don’t need one either. He’s a cheap-ish injection of playoff experience (74 points in 120 playoff games, two Stanley Cups), leadership and lineup versatility. And it’s not like he’s lost his scoring touch either.

Of course, the former Philadelphia Flyers forward’s first game with the Penguins will likely come Thursday… against the Flyers. How fitting.

Next. Check out what grades the Penguins' forwards have earned this season. dark

What are your thoughts on the Penguins acquiring Carter from the Kings? Let me know in the comments below!