Penguins Will Be Happy They Added Carter Over Hall

The Pittsburgh Penguins were busy working the phones prior to the April 12th trade deadline as general manager Ron Hextall and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke were looking for ways to upgrade the roster. While rumored to be interested in several players, the Penguins’ executives were able to finalize a trade, acquiring versatile forward Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings.

The deadline passed and the Penguins had no other moves to announce, however what came next was a touch surprising, as Burke was very candid with some comments about trade negotiations:

While Carter didn’t have any no-trade protection, this leads me to believe Burke was referencing other players who he and Hextall were trying to acquire who did have no-trade protection. More specifically, one of the biggest names on the trade market who holds a full no-movement clause. A winger with speed who management admitted they were interested in adding to the Penguins before the trade deadline. Yes, him…Taylor Hall.

Hall ended up in Boston after approving the destination and has already admitted he’d love to stay a few years with the organization and try and win a Stanley Cup. The Bruins paid a second-round pick and forward Anders Bjork for Hall, a price tag that the Penguins could have easily matched with a mid-level prospect and a second-round pick in 2022. Darren Dreger of TSN reported Hall was mulling over three destinations leading up to Monday’s deadline and late Sunday night decided on Boston.

Taylor Hall Buffalo Sabres
Taylor Hall hasn’t shown he can win when it matters (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

For the Penguins, the financials would have likely been the biggest hurdle, even with the Buffalo Sabres retaining half of Hall’s $8 million cap hit. However, as we saw across the league with several deals, teams were interested in becoming that third-party broker to retain some salary in exchange for a mid-round pick. The price would have been steep for a potential wild card in Hall; regardless, Penguins’ fans should be happy with the outcome.

Carter is a Better Fit for the Penguins Over Hall

Carter’s versatility is something the Penguins will benefit from. He not only plays on the top-three lines but also has the ability to play center, making him much more appealing for Pittsburgh. The Pens have been banged up with injuries, and on a nightly basis, change the structure of their lineup. If you were to insert Hall, he’d only be penciled in at left-wing and would be lost down the middle.

Jeff Carter Los Angeles Kings
Jeff Carter is ready to do whatever it takes to help the Penguins win (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Another aspect here to consider is team chemistry. Management didn’t want to disrupt a tight-knit dressing room, and by adding Carter, they bring on board a player Hextall is very familiar with and someone he trusts. Carter possesses great leadership characteristics and is a proven winner with his two Stanley Cups. The veteran forward is also someone who has experience playing with Sidney Crosby on the international stage and of course, playing against the Penguins for many years as a rival with the Philadelphia Flyers. Hextall was quick to admit he brings a lot to the table, and the team is very happy to have him:

The added cherry on top here is the fact Carter has another season left on his contract and was quick to point out he has no interest in retiring after this season. He received a phone call shortly after the deal was announced from Sidney Crosby and made it known to the Penguins captain he’s all-in and ready to provide the team with whatever they need. It’s going to be up to head coach Mike Sullivan to find the perfect spot for him, but expect some changes along the way. The Penguins continue to be hit with injuries, and until the lineup is back to full strength, Carter could bounce around a little bit to see what works.

It was nice to see this roster get rewarded with the addition of Carter, as when healthy, the Penguins have as good a shot to win the Stanley Cup as any team across the league. Now they have added another player who knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and someone who has the ability to play all over the lineup. All this and management didn’t have to kiss any butts to make it happen.

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