Since Jeff Carter was moved out of Philadelphia in 2011, he’s been a critical component of two Stanley Cup winners, won an Olympic gold medal, banked tens of millions of dollars and gotten hitched. Life is indeed sweet for the 29-year-old center.
But the question we’re asking today is who won that deal between the Flyers and Blue Jackets three-plus years later, based on the results of that swap, and the subsequent package Columbus received for the then disgruntled Carter.
Here’s our re-assessment of the transaction in the latest installment in our series of re-opened cold-case files.
June 23, 2011: Philadelphia trades Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek and the Blue Jackets’ first and third round draft picks in 2011.
Carter, who’d inked an 11-year, $58-million pact that was triggered in 2011-12, was coming off a disappointing season and the Flyers were looking for cap relief. They found a willing partner in Columbus, a club looking to make a splash and wanting to convince Rick Nash they were serious about going to the next level.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, it didn’t work out as planned. Carter got hurt, was unhappy and played just 39 games in Ohio before being leveraged for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick that turned out to be Marko Dano.
Johnson has a been a stud at times for the Jackets – his performance against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the first round last spring is Exhibit A – and disappointing at others. Columbus’ No. 1 defenseman in terms of ice time, Johnson is off to a challenging start this season (like many of his teammates), looking for his first goal through 12 games. He’s also minus-11 (for those who still consider the stat relevant).
Dano, 19, cracked the lineup this season and was a pleasant surprise early on. He has skill and has shown flashes of it, but his ice time has dwindled recently and it’s too soon to project his impact.
On the Flyers’ side of the ledger, Voracek is sizzling this year. He has been a decent points producer and durable performer since the transaction, but the skilled, speedy winger tops the club in points and ranks second to Crosby on the NHL leaderboard. Few are expecting him to maintain that pace, though Flyers owner Ed Snider did proclaim earlier this year he thought Voracek could be a “superstar”.
Sean Couturier is developing into a high-end, two-way player who can be used in all situations. While he hasn’t shot the lights out, he is trending upwards in production and is a darling of the advanced stats world.
Nick Cousins has been slower to develop, and has encountered off-ice problems, but is enjoying a good start to his campaign in the American League (10 points in eight games) and is still considered an OK prospect.
Philadelphia. You need to toss out Carter’s post-Columbus days: this is between Philly and the Jackets. And it could turn into a landslide if Voracek truly has elevated, Couturier becomes the Selke Trophy candidate some are projecting and Cousins keeps progressing.
That said, Johnson also has the ability to make a big difference and has shown it. Once the Jackets resume a semblance of health, we should get a better read on his performance this season and whether he belongs in the upper-echelon of NHL rearguards.
But if they had to do it all over again, don’t you think Columbus would love to have Voracek skating alongside Ryan Johansen and Couturier as their No. 2 pivot?