Poaching salary: Could the Senators acquire Jeff Carter?

When the Philadelphia Flyers acquired the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov, they also acquired a Giordian Knot of salary problems: Bryzgalov is reported looking for a 5-year, $30-32M deal. That represents a cap hit of around $6M at the cheapest.

If the salary cap rises to the expected $62M next year, according to CapGeek, the Flyers will have about $3.4M in space.

Ruh roh.

Let's assume the Flyers sign Bryzgalov. They certainly didn't trade for his rights to let him walk. Signing him means that other players (and more specifically, their cap hits) must be moved. As we know from the recent Jason Spezza discussions, the Ottawa Senators are in desperate need of a winger and a second line center. That's where Jeff Carter comes in.


Jeff Carter

#17 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers

6-3

200

Jan 01, 1985



Carter just signed an 11-year, $58M deal that gives him a reasonable cap hit $5.2M a year. Could the Senators absorb such a contract? Easily. The team currently has $14M in cap space, and should enter the next season with around $17M in space before signings, assuming the cap rises to the expected level. More importantly, Daniel Alfredsson, who is approaching retirement and only has two years left on his current contract, has a cap hit of $4.875M a year. Any cap rise between acquiring Carter and Alfredsson's imminent retirement would offset the $300K gap between them -- making Carter's salary a zero-sum game for the Senators.

In terms of production, Carter peaked in 2008-09 with 84P (46G, 38A). Since then, he's produced 61P (33G, 28A) in 74 games and 66P (36G, 30A) in 80 games. He's clearly capable of delivering production -- his numbers are in line with some quality names -- and would make an ideal second line center. If the Senators are looking for more production from him, putting a former 40-goal scorer on Jason Spezza's right side (a position Carter is very comfortable playing) seems like a good plan.

Carter is currently 26, which means that his 11-year contract will expire when he's 37. Not ideal, but not a deal-breaker, either. Carter wouldn't be the first forward to play beyond the age of 35. His size and relatively injury-free history are positives when looking at longevity.

Rumors are swirling in Columbus of a possible deal -- and that price is expected to be a top-10 pick plus top-six forward. Ottawa could easily pay that by packaging the sixth overall pick with Nick Foligno (coming off a 14G, 20A season that made him third on the team in scoring. Yes, really.) or Peter Regin. The return they'd get is a versatile, two-way, scoring forward in the prime of his career capable of filling one of the team's two biggest needs -- and they'd still have Nashville's first round choice plus three second round picks to maneuver in the draft with.  If the Senators are serious about getting better, it's a move they need to consider.

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