The Jeff Carter saga has been an interesting one in Columbus. After he signed a long-term, cap friendly, career contract with the team that drafted him in 2003, 11th overall, he was shown little brotherly love from the Philadelphia Flyers. In that respect, his career path has paralleled that of his friend and fellow former Flyer, Mike Richards, although the latter, as we know, had the good fortune of coming here to L.A.

That is also where the similarities end.

While Mike Richards was upset at the trade but stepped up, accepted it and has been, in all respects that we as fans have seen, a pleasure to have on the ice and off, Jeff Carter went into hibernation, would not talk with anyone (I believe for weeks) and it finally took a trip by Rick Nash and (if I recall correctly) either Scotty Arniel (who has since been fired) and/or Scott Howson to finally come out of the cupboard under the stairs and accept the fact Philadelphia just didn’t love him anymore.

Fast forward to today.

Jeff Carter has only played 30 games with the Blue Jackets. He was injured from the word “go” early in the season and on January 9 suffered another injury - a separated shoulder. He is currently week to week. Still, in those 30 games, he has 10 goals and 7 assists. He is also a -9.

Now, after giving up Jakub Voracek, a 1st and a 3rd in the last draft (if there was more, it’s not coming to me), the Columbus Blue Jackets are ready to trade Jeff Carter…and it’s no bullshit. I have read different reports about what Columbus may want and with the understanding none of us really know for certain, the vague and speculative consensus seems to be a 1st round draft pick and a roster player, possibly a younger one who can step in now. Vague enough for you? Such are the nature of rumors.

First, let’s look at his contract. He signed an 11 year, $58 million extension after last season. His annual cap hit is $5.2 million but his actual salary steadily goes up from its current $6 million to $7 million in both 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. From there, it drops back down like a roller coaster that just crossed the top of the bell curve. That is a lot of coin to commit to a player. Add a full NTC from 2012-2013 through 2014-2015 and then a modified one and…

Is Jeff Carter worth it?

Do you like goals?

Because that is what Jeff Carter brings. Lots of them.

His career stats scream sniper and he is in his prime. He is a young 27 (just turned on January 1, 2012 – no Islands were dry that day and the night before, I bet), he is big (6’3″), fast, and a prototypical goal scorer who has a physical presence but, most importantly, can bury the puck when it is on his stick. He has led the Flyers in goals before his trade and I believe for multiple seasons. He can score 30 without breaking a sweat. 40 is well within his reach and skill set.

That is the good news.

The bad news, apart from his contract, is he has a reputation as a whining prima donna (he didn’t do himself any favors with his pouting after the trade) who loves to party (in fairness, so do Surly & I but we would knock it off for $58 million) and suddenly has injury problems.

You may think from my comments on the Blasphemous Rumors page that I am completely against a trade for Jeff Carter. If so, you are correct but only in part. I am completely against the current version – what appears to be an injury prone player who has emotional baggage which makes me question his head and heart. I was a huge supporter of trading for Jeff Carter as recently as May 25, 2011 (before his trade to Columbus) and declared myself so.

What has happened?

First, we got Mike Richards. Second line center problem solved. Second, I got sour on Carter after his antics in Columbus. Know this – the fact Jeff Carter does not want to play in Columbus is a big reason he is on the trading block. Third, Drew Doughty was signed to an 8 year, $56 million dollar contract. The last issue is relevant because, with the looming CBA, I am concerned what may happen to the cap and whether taking on a long-term contract like that of Carter is wise at this time.

That brings us to what one of our readers, Anonymoustruth, wrote as a comment in a recent article…for what it’s worth, I am starting to suspect said reader may actually be Jeff Carter and this is his way of crying for help and a trade to L.A.

THESE TOP LINE FORWARDS ARE INCREDIBLY, INCREDIBLY RARE TO BE AVAILABLE. I think everyone is missing that. Do you want to go another five, ten years without a top line goal scorer for the Kings? Because if you look at whats happened with Columbus, Calgary, and the Kings, thats whats going to happen.

and…

My point is, people always find reasons not to take that jump, not to acquire a player, because there’s risks involved. You always find a reason not to, and what happens? Calgary wastes Jarome Iginla’s entire career with them in a sense because they couldnt bring in one single top line center to play with him the entire time. Columbus has squandered Rick Nash’s potential, and their franchise’s potential, by never bringing anyone in.

and…

Jeff Carter, unlike even Zach Parise, is a prototypical thoroughbred sniper with speed and size (Parise is undersized, like Mike Richards), skill, and an amazing shot, and “40 goal potential” gets thrown around a lot, I mean any 25 goal scorer under the perfect circumstances could have a 40 goal year, people were saying Penner had 40 goal potential last season, but when I say Carter has 40 goal potential, that’s real 40 goal potential, every season. I don’t mean he could score 40 goals some season, I mean he should, every season he’s healthy.

Carter is a 40 goal sniper, in his prime, with a 5.25 million cap hit, and the Blue Jackets want to get rid of him as reported by TSN themselves. All they want back, even what they floated through TSN, is a 1st round pick and a young roster player, which would be less than the Kings gave up for Penner, and which means they would probably settle for a 2nd and a young roster player, or just a 1st round pick, by the deadline.

Even taking their highest asking price at face value…

A 1st round pick and Andrei Loktionov, or a 1st round pick and Thomas Hickey, or a 1st round pick and Kyle Clifford, maybe throw in a 3rd… all assets that are currently not helping the Kings on the ice one bit… and you get back a 40 goal guy in his prime with all the tools?

That’s a deal the Kings have to make. Is it perfect? No. But is it better than going another five or ten years without a real goal scorer to play with Kopitar? I cant see how anyone could say no. It’s better. It’s the best option the Kings have.

See what I mean? He has to be Jeff Carter, right? Who else speaks the blasphemy of proclaiming themselves greater than Zach Parise (pbuh)?

I kid our reader. He makes some good points. But here is mine.

There is a huge difference between Loktionov and a 1st vs. Hickey and a 1st vs. Clifford and a 1st. The difference is if Loktionov were traded, Jacob would cry. If Hickey were traded, I would laugh. If Clifford were traded, Jacob would cut your heart out with a spoon for suggesting it and blame you for eternity and a week.

Remember also that although we do have a 1st round pick in the coming draft (at least I think we do), I know we don’t have a 2nd round pick (Mike Richards trade) and I am uncertain about a 3rd because I thought we gave it up in the Penner trade but it was conditional. Someone I am sure will look that up. The point is giving up a 1st round pick in this draft (which is rumored to be deep) may leave us with nothing until round 3 or possibly round 4. That too is a big deal.

As always, it comes down to price.

What is yours?