LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Jeff Carter is on his way to the West Coast.
The L.A. Kings acquired the centre from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night for defenceman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick.
The deal is pending both players passing a physical Friday.
“I am obviously excited. I am familiar with the team and a lot of guys on the team,” Carter said. “I looked at the Kings at the start of the year as being a club in a good position to win. I look forward to coming to L.A. and being a part of it all.”
Acquired in a blockbuster deal with Philadelphia last summer,
Carter was expected to centre the Blue Jackets’ top line with captain Rick Nash, who is also rumoured to be on the trading block leading up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
But Carter missed 20 games due to a broken foot and a separated shoulder.
The 27-year-old had three goals in the Blue Jackets’ previous game and has 15 goals and 10 assists in 39 games this season.
He signed an 11-year, US$58-million contract with Philadelphia in November 2010.
“This isn’t a rental. To me, this isn’t your classic trade-deadline deal, where you’re giving up young players for a rental-type situation,” Kings president and general manager Dean Lombardi said on a conference call.
“This is a good young player for a good young player. This is a hockey deal.”
Carter carries an annual cap hit of $5.272 million through the 2021-22 season, while Johnson’s contract averages out to $4.357 million until 2017-18.
Carter, who has 368 points (196 goals, 172 assists) in 500 career games, joins a Kings squad that has scored an NHL-low 129 goals this season. L.A. entered play Thursday clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Carter has scored at least 30 goals three times, and has hit the 20-goal mark five times during his six-plus seasons in the NHL.
He has also appeared in 47 career playoff games, recording 21 points (13 goals, eight assists).
“Even in the summer, I always felt we were still a top forward away,” Lombardi said.
“Now, that said, I certainly didn’t think we were 30th in the league in scoring and I think that part of the thing that broke down is our secondary scoring.”
The move to L.A. reunites the London, Ont. native with fellow centre Mike Richards, who was traded by the Flyers to the Kings last June on the same day Carter was shipped to Columbus in a major Philadelphia housecleaning. The pair helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup final in 2010.
Johnson, meanwhile, has eight goals and 16 assists in 61 games with the Kings in 2011-12. In 343 career games, the 25-year-old has 30 goals and 94 assists. He had a goal and 11 assists in 12 playoff games with L.A.
Johnson signed a seven-year deal with the Kings in January 2011 worth $30.5 million.
The Indianapolis native and former star at the University of Michigan joins a Columbus team that sits last in the NHL and is clearly looking to rebuild.
“Jack is a talented young defenceman who will strengthen our defence corps. We are very excited to add him to our organization,” Columbus general manager Scott Howson said in a statement.
“We are committed to reshaping our club and moving forward. Adding a player like Jack and a first round pick are important parts of that process.”
The first-round pick Columbus acquired will be in either 2012 or 2013. If the Kings miss the playoffs this season, Columbus automatically gets L.A.’s choice in 2013. If the Kings make this year’s post-season, Columbus can choose between L.A.’s first-round pick in 2012 or 2013.