Jeff Carter, who gave the Kings vital depth at center and was a catalyst in their Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014, will now figure into the club’s rebuilding process as he departs in a trade that will bring the Kings draft picks to help them continue their quest to return to postseason prominence.
The Kings traded Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2023 draft, Kings general manager Rob Blake announced in a statement.
In such cases, the conditions usually depend on how well the traded player does with his new team or how many regular-season or playoff games he plays. Carter, 36, has one season left after this one at a salary cap hit of more than $5.2 million. The Penguins announced that the Kings will retain 50% of Carter’s salary.
The NHL trade deadline is Monday at noon Pacific time. However, trades are often announced several hours after the deadline once the league approves them.
Then-general manager Dean Lombardi acquired Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 23, 2012, for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft. Carter arrived with some questions about his dedication because he had been considered a partier during his days with the Philadelphia Flyers, who drafted him and employed him through the 2010-11 season.
However, Carter was an upstanding player and citizen with the Kings. He chipped in eight goals and 13 points in 20 playoff games during their 2012 Cup run and ranked second in team scoring during their 2014 Cup journey, collecting 10 goals and 25 assists.
As he aged, he often played on the wing instead of at center. He had eight goals and 19 points in 40 games this season while averaging 16 minutes 27 seconds of ice time per game, his lowest average since his rookie season of 2005-06. The Penguins are third in the East division this season and are likely to try to make a push for the Cup.
Carter’s departure leaves Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick as the only players left with the Kings who played on both of the club’s Cup-winning teams.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.