The First Jeff Carter Trade Revisited

From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Jeff Carter’s had a quietly successful career at the NHL level.

He broke into the league at the age of 21 with the Philadelphia Flyers who drafted him 11th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Carter spent six seasons with the Flyers following his debut season scoring 181 goals and 343 points in 461 regular season games.

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His Flyers went to the playoffs five times in his six years – with Carter contributing 21 points in 47 postseason games with the orange, black and white.

But following the 2010-11 season, the Flyers shipped a 26-year-old Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2011 offseason – a move that would last long for Carter.

Columbus’ Conundrum

On June 23, 2011, the Flyers and Jackets finalized a deal that saw Carter head to Columbus. In return, the Flyers acquired a package that included Jakub Voracek, a 2011 first-round pick (Sean Couturier at eighth overall) and a 2011 third-round pick (Nick Cousins at 68th overall).

Going to ColumbusGoing to Philadelphia
F Jeff CarterF Jakub Voracek
 2011 1st-round pick
(#8 – Sean Couturier)
 2011 3rd-round pick
(#68 – Nick Cousins)

At the time, Voracek was just 21 and had just finished his third season with the Blue Jackets. In his first three years, he notched 134 points (39 goals and 95 assists) in 241 regular season games.

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While the Jackets believed they were getting themselves a potential top-line center in Carter, what they didn’t know was that their newest acquisition wouldn’t really find his way in Columbus. Carter struggled throughout the season with injuries and just didn’t seem like he fit with the organization – a small blemish on an otherwise successful career.

Jeff Carter Los Angeles Kings
Jeff Carter, former Los Angeles King (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He played just 39 games with the Jackets scoring 15 goals and 25 points before he was shipped out once again to the Los Angeles Kings (a trade we’ll discuss in a future piece).

The Flying V Among 3

The Flyers came out with a healthy collection of new players in dealing away Carter – who scored 46 goals for them on his way to 84 points in 2008-09 as a 24-year-old.

At the time, they got a 22-year-old Voracek who has developed into quite an offensive player. In 10 seasons with the Flyers after the trade, Voracek had 604 points (177 goals and 427 assists) in 727 regular season games to go along with 27 points (nine goals and 18 assists) in 45 postseason games with the club.

The Flyers dealt him back to the Blue Jackets during the 2021 offseason.

Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers, NHL
Jakub Voracek (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Along with Voracek, the Flyers also received a first-round which they used to draft Couturier and a third-round pick used to draft Nick Cousins (both in 2011).

While Couturier has taken on the role of a more defensive-minded center, the 27-year-old still ranked sixth among Flyers in scoring in 2016-17. Couturier started a new 8-year contract with the team in 2022-23, so it’s likely he’ll play his entire career in Philadelphia.

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Over nine seasons with the Flyers, Couturier has 460 points (180 goals and 280 assists) in 721 regular season games to go along with 22 points in 39 postseason games.

As for the final piece the Flyers got in the trade – Cousins – remained a Flyer up until the 2017 offseason. Cousins played parts of three seasons with the Flyers racking up 27 points (12 goals and 15 assists) in 107 regular season games. But on June 16, 2017, the Flyers traded the 24-year-old along with Merrick Madsen to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for 20-year-old Brendan Warren and a 2018 fifth-round pick.

Going to ArizonaGoing to Philadelphia
F Nick CousinsF Brendan Warren
 G Merrick Madsen2018 5th-round pick

Jackets or Flyers: Who Won?

From this trade alone, the clear winner was the Flyers. They got three pieces for a guy that played less than half a season with the Blue Jackets. That’s not to say that Carter wasn’t a great piece going the other way – but the Blue Jackets definitely didn’t get their money’s worth when it came to the big center.

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On the other side, aside from Cousins being traded, the Flyers still have Couturier and Voracek on their roster and get production from both of them. While Couturier’s isn’t always offensive, NHL clubs do need role players and that’s exactly how the young forward fits in.

Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers, Fantasy Hockey
Sean Couturier has learned to play a particular role with the Flyers. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In return for Cousins, the Flyers got a young prospect and a fifth-round pick in 2018. It will take time to see just how well these two pieces factor into the Flyers lineup.

While the Flyers remained relatively unscathed following this move, the Jackets eventually moved Carter for Jack Johnson and a pick. The second Carter trade (which, again, we will talk about in a future piece) made the Flyers-Jackets trade a much closer one in terms of value. Still, it’s hard not to think that the Flyers came out on the winning side when they traded away Carter.