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2012 NHL Trade Deadline: Jeff Carter / Rick Nash - Scott Howson's Bait and Switch

In closely watching the trade rumors over the last few weeks the #1 seller has to be the Blue Jackets. Scott Howson is leaking information like a sieve to get his phone ringing. It isn't the usual behind closed doors trade talk that results in that "out of the blue trade" no one saw coming.

With Howson announcing Rick Nash on the block, his phone probably went from deader than a zombie walk to lite up like a Christmas tree at Grand Central Station. He went from little to no interest in Jeff Carter to half the NHL calling him.

My trade deadline radar went off on the public announcement of Rick Nash as available though, is he really?

Navigating blockbuster trades like one including Rick Nash take time. A lot of focus on the details, long term planning of teams is altered, slowly developed strong prospects get considered, long term Cap consequences, many factors and Nash at the end of the day can kibosh it all anyway with his NMC. Are the Jackets a team other buyers want to put time into or would they prefer to focus on the usual tweaks of more depth with other teams?

Howson putting up the public for sale sign on Nash 12 days or so before the deadline doesn't jive. There isn't enough time to get into proper discussion with all the possibly interested teams unless he has already targeted one or two teams for the trade but if so, why leak the information to the press?

Howson is going to potentially get over-run with offers and how can he navigate them all prudently in 12-14 days? Trading the franchise player of your team is not something you want to rush. A Nash deal is much better suited to the off-season.

So why did Howson sound the "For Sale Horn"?

He wants to trade Jeff Carter, he needs to trade Jeff Carter and he can get some calls now that start with a team asking about Nash and deliver a nice slick sales pitch on Carter at the end of it. "Carter has no locker-room attitude, Carter really wants to play for the <insert team name>, he will take you to the Cup and really in terms of contract and cost it isn't that much different from Rick Nash, in fact he is cheaper. Boy do I have a deal for you."

So if you are offering this for Nash how about this for Carter instead… and on it goes. Classic "Bait and Switch" is how you go from the car you want, to that risky lemon on a bargain price.

Howson has already stated he got a "uncomfortably low offer" for Jeff Carter. I would not be surprised if it was the Flames who gave it to him.

Calgary and Columbus are simply not ideal trading partners. On one hand Calgary needs that legitimate #1 C and no one in Calgary has gotten glassy eyed over Olli Jokinen. Despite his current streak he is still best seen as a good #2 C who is turning 34 next season. Calgary has the need at C but has Cap issues and not a whole lot of prospects to offer back.

If Calgary did make an offer I imagine it may have been along the lines of a 1st, Leland Irving or Karri Ramo and Matt Stajan. I am sure that would strike Howson as uncomfortably low but is it really given his circumstances? A player with an attitude, a big paycheck and a long contract is a risk.

The Heatley trade to San Jose involved Jonathan Cheechoo, a 2nd round pick and Milan Michalek for Dany Heatley. It was surrounded by the drama of Heatley demanding the trade and even a short list of teams to go to. Murray's hand was forced and he was summarily roasted at the time for having blatantly lost the trade but in the end, some today have commented on how Ottawa may have won the trade.

If Howson has a "situation" on his hands, as some suggest in the deeper nether regions of the inter-webs. Whispers and rumor that Carter was such an issue in the locker-room he was toxic, some speculate he is a part of the teams extremely disappointing performance, well, in that case, Howson simply has to get him out of Dodge as fast as he can, similar in form to what Murray was forced to do with Heatley in Ottawa.

Second thoughts on Carter for the Flames

Initially I was behind the idea of acquiring Jeff Carter for the Flames. On paper the fit is there, giving up a first round pick plus is a natural expectation but as time has gone on here and I have had time to ponder it and read extensively all over the net, I've started to have second thoughts.

I've frequented message boards for many, many years now.

(Yes - I know 95% of the content on message boards is useless but I have come to recognize some usernames that are extremely well-informed, far more insightful than myself and far more accurate in predictive power and trade proposals. These anoymous users come and go from the forums, going back to their day jobs as engineers or what ever.)

The point is amongst these posters, who over a period of many years, I have come to respect I have never seen a potential acquisition of a player more clearly divide them. The fan base in general is divided but there is usually uniformity on trades and acquisitions that make hockey sense for the Flames from the well informed posters. Not this time.

Well informed posters are very leery about Jeff Carter and the future, well others make the leap of faith he will return to Flyer form and finally give the Flames their long sought after legitimate #1 C.

Others stress that Carter could be a long term disaster for the Flames with a Heatley like attitude that is engrained and will not change. Nothing a coach, a captain like Iggy or a good organization like the Flames can do. It is simply the character and disposition of the player.

A toxic personality that would be the last thing a team like the Flames needs with an influx of young players on the horizon coming in.

You can just imagine things Carter may say in the locker-room.

Hypothetical Jeff Carter, "Yeah kid, screw the organization, I got back doored and sold on a bunch of crap about playing my career in Philly, took a discount and everything. Get the most money you can at all times and that NTC doesn't mean squat until you turn 27. What do you owe them, nothing. They are out to get you, all those GMs are the same etc etc"

If Jeff Carter is a bitter player, and he very well may be, no matter what his skill level, he is the absolute last thing you want on your team.


I have taken a significant step back from my initial enthusiasm on Jeff Carter. A first round pick is not something to toss away lightly.

The only reassuring fact for Flames fans is that even if Jay Feaster does want Jeff Carter he will have to move salary out and given the Flames limited Cap room that is going to have to be a player like Stajan. He could let Howson pick the Cap player from the Flames but how does he make it work? Nothing there is attractive that doesn't have a NMC or NTC.

No matter what Howson goes after it will likely not make him happy.

The team that gets Carter may turn out being very unhappy as well in the long run, no matter how nice the optics may look at first.

Howson could sit on Carter till the off-season but at that point he may have an asset that is diminishing even further. A Souray like situation where the player starts to go public with his discontent and inability to get traded. At that time watch out.

Souray was rumored to have asked for a trade behind the scenes in late 2008, the Oilers never moved him and they certainly would have gotten a couple 2nd round picks at the very least at that time. By the end the Oilers today pay half of Souray's salary to play against them.

For Howson, this is the worst of all possible worlds. It is understandable putting Rick Nash on the trade wire to get calls but woe to the team that gets sold on thinking Jeff Carter is Nash like. A Nash trade would certainly turn the Jackets around and a Carter trade should be seen as damage control, not a windfall.

At this point I am almost hoping the Flames don't get Carter and keep that first round pick.