Flames Burning up Barter Town - Is Jeff Carter next?

The Flames have been wheeling and dealing at a rapid rate since 2012 broke, already closing three four trades before February has even hit.

January 6th with Tampa Bay - Blair Jones for Brendan Mikkelson.

January 12th with Montreal - Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a 2nd round pick (2013) for Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo and a 5th round pick (2012).

January 27th with Chicago - Brendan Morrison for Brian Connelly.

(Update) - January 30th with Winnipeg - John Negrin for Akim Aliu

With public confirmation that Jeff Carter is "100 percent available" it is hard to imagine that Feaster is not at the very least in on the talks. The Flames have probably been in on every single conversation for a #1 C for the last decade. Carter's stock has declined in the last year but he still is fairly seen as a #1 C. TSN via Darren Dreger have also weighed in on the legitimacy of Carter being available.

While some are mystified with the Flames moves, it is those who see trades in terms of black and white. A team can only be a seller or a buyer. Feaster's moves since taking the GM seat have been a combination of both. If one can straddle the two worlds of partial rebuild and moves for the 'now' at the same time the Flames direction has a method.

So can Feaster close a deal for Jeff Carter? Should he? What are the pros and cons of Carter? What will the cost be?

Pros

(1) 1st Line Center - For the Flames Carter still represents their holy grail, their long sought after 1st line C. He is a 1st line C in Calgary, he may not be on many NHL teams but he qualifies in Calgary.

Olli Jokinen, even with a very good season going, is not properly viewed as a 1st line C. He does not even want the role and has made recent comments about how he loves the challenge of being a two-way C.

The Flames simply refuses to lay down and drop to the basement so Carter fits a long standing requirement to be competitive and is still fairly young having just turned 27 on January 1st.

(2) Potential Bargain - Carter's stock has dropped significantly since the original Flyers trade. The Blue Jackets have clearly lost the original trade at this point and are likely to move him in a deal that allows them to just save a bit of face.

The Jackets ownership is also likely motivated to tighten up the money belt.

Carter put them on the hook for 52+ million in the next 10 years, they have got to want to get that off their books. The Blue Jackets are not a team on the relocation rumor mill and their ownership appears to be committed to their market but at the same time they do not have money to burn like the Flames, Rangers and Leafs.

Columbus media already highlights for all to see that Carter may be damaged goods and tough to move. This means the Flames or any team should expect a bargain price. The fact the Blue Jackets have sounded the Carter on the block horn around the NHL is even further evidence of that.

Could they be so strongly motivated to move Carter that they may even eat a contract like Stajan back with the right combination of young players added in?

Cons / Risks

Oh let me count the risks

(1) The Contract - Carter is on a monster contract that runs all the way to 2022. 10 years and on top of it he has a NTC that kicks in next season. While this does result in a fairly friendly cap hit of only 5.27 million, assuming he returns to his Flyer form, the risk if he turns out to be mailing it in is enormous.

He will hold all the cards as a player and he could be the kiss of death for the Flames or the answer to their long standing woes at the C position. The analysis is a coin toss at this point.

(2) Injury History - Almost as bad as a player with a poor compete level is an injury prone player on a long term contract (Hello Rick DiPietro). Carter has started to look like he is made of glass.

He missed the Cup finals with the Flyers in 2009-10 and has a history of taking foot and knee injuries. Returning this year he recently took a separated shoulder injury on January 10th. 2012. Any playoff team looking to acquire him at the deadline has to doubt he will be ready to contribute right away at a 100%.

This works for the Flames though as they would likely bid on him regardless.

(3) Off-Ice Concerns - The Flyers Dry Island program which Mike Richards and Jeff Carter refused to participate in had many speculating that drinking or off-ice issues was part of the reason Paul Holmgren pulled the big trades last off-season and shocked the entire NHL. Many at the time were mocking Holmgren but few do today with the return he scored for his young - "Flyers Gone Wild Boys".

On a young immature player this is an acceptable risk IF the contract is short but it isn't. If Jeff Carter is a young millionaire with more interest in chasing puck bunnies than the puck on the ice. Prefers twirling the ice in his drink than skating on it he is simply a player to avoid.

Analysis

This is no Brad Richards who the Flames chased in the off-season. This is a young player who has proven he can potentially be a #1 C but has lacked the consistency and has a lot of questions surrounding him both regarding his health and his off-ice conduct.

Going after Carter is not as clear cut as going after Brad Richards.

The 'For Carter' Camp

Those who will endorse the move will be the right now crowd. In a worse case scenario the wealthy owners of the Flames can bury Carter in the long-run if he starts showing up drunk to work or simply becomes a wash-out. After all it is only money to them and they have plenty of it.

Their commitment to putting the best product possible on the ice for Flames fans will be reenforced.

Carter has the potential to truly turn the team right around. Turn them back into a playoff team and the forward ranks would certainly be complete or close to it with good depth on the 3rd and 4th lines.

The 'Against Carter' Camp

Make no mistake, Jeff Carter even as a depreciated asset will cost the Flames a 1st round pick plus much more. The Jackets will clearly want youth and those who advocate a rebuild Oiler style will be pulling their hair out BUT the Flames have said repeatedly that they want to be competitive, if it happens no one should be surprised.

This crowd will also certainly come unhinged to potentially see a 1st round pick and young players like Irving, Brodie, Ramo, Backlund, Sven potentially on the plane out. The Jackets will not trade Carter, who himself is only 27 for players older than him.

What will the Cost Be?

The Flames will have to move some salary to make this work. The Flames should be a little leery of Carter because his contract makes him a long term risk. His injury history is also a big warning. The man is no Jarome Iginla with an impeccable character record BUT he is still a legitimate #1 Center but hopefully at a lower price that what Columbus paid for him to the Flyers.

If the Jackets are willing to move him for a reasonable discount the Flames given their woes at Center can not be expected to say no if the price is right.

So what are possible deals?

I would expect Stajan or David Moss to go mainly for cap balance in the trade.

Stajan despite being overpaid also has that front loaded contract. His Cap hit may be 3.5 but the dollars paid next season and the one after are only 2.5 million. Calgary has a glut of 2nd / 3rd line C and if given the chance Stajan could land the 2nd line and certainly the 3rd line C position in Columbus.

Stajan is probably better than he's showed in Flames colors. His PP time has completely dried up in town and his underlying numbers, while mediocre, also weren't terrible last year as well. He could be a capable enough middle-rotation on most NHL teams. ~ Kent Wilson, Flames Nation (September 28th, 2011

David Moss is another possible piece that could work for the Jackets although due to his injury he is unlikely to go.

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A 1st round pick would certainly be included. I don't see how the trade could be made without it. Irving may qualify for this instead and young goaltending is certainly of interest to the Jackets.

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If Irving is not part of the deal Karri Ramo could be. Ramo has the press of being one of the best KHL goalies at the moment and if Irving isn't the one to go then Ramo very well could suffice, if included with a 1st round pick.

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In conclusion the assets required to get even a depreciated Jeff Carter would be enourmous on a Flames team that is lacking in young depth. To give up a good portion of the few significant youth they have for a player who has an injury history, potential off-ice issues and be married to him for a decade has to have some Flames fans drawing a deep breath.

Personally this kind of a package is made tolerable only if Stajan can be dumped in the deal. Something that may not even be possible.

Will the trade happen? It depends how badly the Jackets want to move Carter and how much of the precious few good young assets the Flames want to give up.

These are not trading partners made in heaven.

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