Though he had a bit of a down year overall in 2011, the Los Angeles Kings made Mike Richards a very happy man when they traded for his best friend, Jeff Carter, prior to last year’s trade deadline.
We’ve already examined what a necessity is for Richards to be better this season if the Kings hope to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. But heading into his first full season in Hollywood, what should the Kings and their fans expect to see from Jeff Carter?
Carter is a guy with elite scoring capabilities. We saw it in his days with the Philadelphia Flyers when he netted 46, 33, and 36 goals in his last three years with the club, respectively. That production declined sharply in his half season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Those early rumors that he wanted no part of central Ohio proved plenty true, with just 15 goals.
During the postseason, though, we saw Carter make something of a return to that elite level. After a quiet start to the postseason, Carter picked up his play, finishing with 13 points in 20 games, including a hat trick against the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Finals.
That’s something that certainly bodes well for the upcoming season.
Carter heads into his first full season with LA to a Kings team that looks exactly like it did in June. So the comfort factor is going to be there. With a strong group around him, much like his days with Philly, Carter shouldn’t have a problem putting up some points in 2012-2013.
Playing in the middle in that top six, Carter is going to be put in a position to succeed. He should also be a key figure on a power play that will desperately need to improve upon their performance from a season ago.
He may not score 46 goals, or even reach the 40-mark for that matter, but I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see Carter return to at least 30-goal form for the Los Angeles Kings this season.