It was not long ago that the Kings were at the top of the league with an imposing roster that possessed a perfect blend of size, grit, and skill. Clearly dominating opposition in their title runs they looked as if to be the next Blackhawk dynasty led by one of the best two-way centers in the game, Anze Kopitar. However, time has not panned out in the Kings favor, and the current roster lacks quality depth, which was apparent in the dreadful season put up by Kopitar in 2016-17. Even though he could’ve done better regardless you cannot pair him with bottom-six wingers and expect elite numbers. Yet despite the roster trending in the wrong direction one forward who remains relatively consistent amidst the changing landscape is Jeff Carter. Forever in Kopitar’s shadow, Carter has put up quality seasons every year since coming to Los Angeles. Locked in for 25 goals minimum year, the numbers show why he needs to be coveted in drafts despite his advancing age.
Since his first full season with the Kings, Carter has rewarded the team by being one of the most consistent point scorers in the league. In the past three seasons, Carter has crossed the 60-point threshold each tim,e and although known for his goal-scoring capability, he has turned into a distributor with 106 assists over this time period. Re-entering 30-goal territory last year for the first time since he was 26 years old, it would seem that Carter is getting better with age. Of his 32 goals, he contributed 10 of them on the man advantage, as well as being a healthy contributor once again in the shots department with 250. Want to talk about a clutch player? Last season he had nine — yes nine — game-winning goals bested only by Rickard Rakell. Known for his size and deceptive speed, he has shown no signs of tapering off physically/capability wise and should be in for another productive campaign. Carter’s possession percentages again topped 50 percent, which speaks to his line’s usual dominance when deployed. Not once since coming to the Kings have these percentages dropped below 50 for Carter, which cements the fact that he drives play. The stats are all there, and we have not even touched upon the fact he also provided 41 penalty minutes, 86 hits, and 735 faceoff wins in 2016-17.
For what is becoming a rare breed, a pinpoint-sniping center that’s right handed is something all squad’s covet. Carter can put pucks through mouse holes himself but can just as easily set the table for another. He is a focal point on an offense without many others matching his capabilities. If Tyler Toffoli can return to his goal-scoring form these two will inflate each other’s stats, hello stacking option at reasonable price in your draft. As stated before, the roster is mediocre overall as far as skill. This is not to be unkind to the organization, but Carter carries this team on his back at times and nothing is changing for the upcoming season. He was literally the goal scoring offense all together at certain points. Without his contributions the 24th-overall scoring team of 2016-17 could’ve easily been last overall. Though none of us are the coach, one has to hope the That 70’s Line is given another extended look and the magic is recaptured. Tanner Pearson and Toffoli lined up with Carter in the past and flashed as an unstoppable force, and although there was a down points, the trio always maintained strong Corsi stats.
Because of their lack of skill throughout all four lines it would be best for Los Angeles to stack the top-two lines with its best offensive players. The addition of Mike Cammalleri is intriguing, and it should help Kopitar, but we all know likelihood that the veteran winger will go down to injury per the usual. Marian Gaborik is a shell of his former self, but he needs to rediscover his 27-year-old self for the paycheck he is commanding. Dustin Brown has come and gone as far as his peak. Let’s face it, this team is offensively deficient. Beyond Carter, Kopitar, Toffoli, Cammalleri, and Doughty there are no real serious threats. Again not to knock the Kings, but this is to drive home the fact that Carter is going to be more than leaned upon once again this year, and it makes him an asset to be had on your squad. Do not fear age, as he is a big durable body a la Joe Thornton, and Carter should continue to produce into his mid-30s. Though not someone to draft too early, Carter offers reliable cross-category upside that shouldn't be undervalued in seasonal or dynasty settings.
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