TORONTO - Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have gone from Philly Scapegoats to Tinseltown Saviours.
At least Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi hopes this pending Hollywood script plays out that way.
Sure, Lombardi paid a heavy price to ensure the Richards-Carter reunion took place. Surrendering a potential No. 1 defenceman in Jack Johnson and a first-round pick, which at this point stands to be in the middle of the pack, was a significant price to pay in order to land Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
But, having been a scout in the Philadelphia organization when Richards and Carter were promising up-and-comers with the Flyers, Lombardi also knows first-hand the type of on-ice chemistry that they have, a formula that saw the pair combine for 314 goals and 692 points in Philadelphia. He is also aware their relationship extends back to junior, a period when they helped Canada win gold at the 2005 World Juniors.
Just one year after reaching the 2010 Stanley Cup final against the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks, Richards and Carter both were shocked last June when the Flyers shipped them out in two mega-deals, Richards to Los Angeles and Carter to Columbus. In the process, the Flyers shed over $100 million US in salary with those pair of deals in order to open up cap room for goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who was brought in from Phoenix.
Bryzgalov’s roller-coaster season with Philadelphia has led to sarcastic quips in Philadelphia that ANY goalie crumbles the moment he tugs a Flyers jersey over his head.
Carter joins a Los Angeles team that is the lowest scoring unit in National Hockey League, finding the net just 129 times in 61 games despite boasting offensive muscle like Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Drew Doughty.
The Kings might not be done, either, perhaps dangling goalie Jonathan Bernier for another big shooter. In order to accommodate the incoming contract, the Kings would be looking to shed salary, perhaps making Dustin Brown available in a separate deal.
Brown would garner plenty of interest around the league from teams like the Maple Leafs who are thirsting for a power forward.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
Keep in mind that the teams interested in acquiring Rick Nash from the Blue Jackets were closely monitoring what Columbus GM Scott Howson was going to do with Carter.
Now, teams looking at Carter might switch their sights to other available goal scorers like Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky or Montreal’s Andrei Kostitsyn.
Secondly, the teams who lost out in the Carter sweepstakes might turn their attention to Nash, although he still holds the hammer as to where he might end up thanks to his no-movement clause.
Some organizations, such as the Rangers, are said to want to know Howson’s intentions regarding Nash by Sunday, allowing them time to look for alternative deals by Monday’s 3 p.m. Eastern trade deadlne.
With Brian Burke admitting that he might have to address his goaltending, there are no shortage of questions regarding who might be available.
The New York Islanders’ Evgeni Nabokov would seem to be a good fit, having played for Leafs coach Ron Wilson in San Jose. But the Isles are attempting to re-sign the veteran and were scheduled to speak Thursday with Nabokov’s agent, Don Meehan.
Even if the Leafs do make a strong pursuit for a goalie, they might have company in the form of their provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators.
With starter Craig Anderson on the shelf after slicing open his hand, the Sens could opt to bolster their depth between the pipes. Alex Auld will carry the load for the time being while Robin Lehner was called up from AHL Binghamton on Thursday.
Is Roman Hamrlik doing everything in his power to flee the sinking ship known as the Washington Capitals? Already hearing his name in numerous trade rumours, Hamrlik ripped into Caps coach Dale Hunter for making him a healthy scratch against Ottawa on Wednesday. Hamrlik wasn’t buying Hunter’s logic that the veteran defenceman was kept out of the lineup for taking a “bad penalty” on Monday. “You should ask him (Hunter) about penalties,” Hamrlik told radio stantion 106.7 The Fan Radio in Washington on Thursday. “When he played I think he made lots of penalties himself, so he should know better.” Biting words like that should accelerate efforts to ship Hamrlik and his 2012-13 salary of $3.5 million out of Washington ... Interesting to hear reports out of Edmonton that Philly’s Jaromir Jagr figures Hemsky might benefit from a change of address. A little recruiting being done by Jags, perhaps?