Kings trade Jeff Carter to Penguins for pair of draft picks

Los Angeles Kings left wing Andreas Athanasiou (22) celebrates with center Jeff Carter (77) after scoring a gaol against the San Jose Sharks during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 10, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Kings traded forward Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins late Sunday night for a pair of conditional draft picks.

Kings vice president and general manager Rob Blake said the franchise will have a conditional third-round selection in the 2022 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2023 draft. Pittsburgh GM Ron Hextall spent seven seasons with the Kings as assistant general manager, including when they won their first Stanley Cup in 2012.

Carter has played 16 years in the NHL with the last nine-plus seasons coming with the Kings, who he helped to a pair of Stanley Cup titles. The 36-year-old forward was acquired from Columbus during the 2011-12 season. During his time with the Kings, he led the team in power-play (57) and game-winning goals (44), was second in goals (194), third in points (383) and fourth in assists (189).

In 40 games this season, Carter has eight goals and 11 assists. He leaves Los Angeles tied for 10th in franchise history in goals and first in overtime goals with 11. The Kings are likely to miss the postseason for a third straight season. They have won only three of their last 10 and are six points out of the final playoff spot in the West Division.

Pittsburgh is in third place in the East Division, but just two points behind Washington and the New York Islanders for the lead.

The Penguins have weathered a series of injuries to remain in contention and Carter’s arrival — with the Kings picking up 50% of his $5.2 million salary — give them more experienced depth up the middle with the playoffs approaching.

The move is the first splashy acquisition for Hextall, who was hired in February to replace Jim Rutherford. Hextall and Carter have a history together. Hextall was Philadelphia’s director of player personnel when the Flyers selected Carter in the first round of the 2003 draft.

Hextall was assistant general manager for the Kings when they acquired Carter at the 2012 trade deadline. Four months later, the Kings won the Stanley Cup with Carter scoring eight goals during the postseason run.

Carter joins a club that has won 8 of 10 to keep pressure on Washington and the Islanders for the top spot in the East. The Penguins have done it by playing the kind of responsible north-south hockey head coach Mike Sullivan covets and they’ve done it with center Evgeni Malkin and rising winger Kasperi Kapanen nursing injuries. Both are expected back in time for the postseason.

Pittsburgh will get a chance to ease Carter into the lineup. The Penguins are off until Thursday and are in a stretch that includes a series of games against also-rans in the East. Pittsburgh hosts reeling Philadelphia on Thursday before a weekend set against woeful Buffalo and three more games against the Devils.

Carter’s departure leaves only four members of the Kings’ two Stanley Cup teams still with the franchise — captain Anze Kopitar, forward Dustin Brown, defenseman Drew Doughty and goalie Jonathan Quick.

Carter will have one year left on his current contract, with a $5.27 million cap hit entering next season.