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Trade: Penguins acquire Jeff Carter from Kings for two draft picks

Jeff Carter

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14: Jeff Carter #77 of the Los Angeles Kings looks on during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at STAPLES Center on January 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

With the NHL trade deadline just hours away, the weekend flurry of trade activity continued early Monday morning with a deal between the Penguins and Kings.

The Penguins are acquiring forward Jeff Carter from the Kings in exchange for two conditional draft picks: a 2022 third-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick.

Should the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup Final and Carter plays in at least 50% of the games, the third becomes a second. The 2023 fourth-rounder becomes a third-rounder if Carter plays in at least 50 games next season.

The Kings are also retaining 50% of Carter’s remaining salary as part of the deal. He is signed through the end of the 2021-22 season at a salary cap hit of $5.272M per season.

This is the first major roster move the Penguins have made since the hiring of Ron Hextall as the team’s new general manager, and it sees him acquiring a significant player that he has ties to from his days in the Philadelphia and Los Angeles front offices.

Carter, 36, has eight goals and 11 assists in 40 games this season for the Kings.

Carter’s fit in Pittsburgh

Where Jeff Carter ends up fitting in the Pittsburgh lineup is going to be interesting, but a safe assumption would be on the third line once all of their forwards return to the lineup. Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen remain sidelined at the moment due to injury. When they do return they will likely be the focal point of a second line that would feature either Jared McCann or Jason Zucker on the other wing. Whichever player is not on the second line would presumably skate on the third line alongside Carter.

It was expected that the Penguins would make some kind of a move before Monday’s trade deadline, but this particular move is a bit of a surprise. All of the talk centered around the team adding a big, physical forward. And while Carter sort of fits that description, he also can bring some scoring punch to the bottom-six. He is not the 30-40 goal scorer he was at his peak, but his current production as a third-liner -- as well as his ability to drive possession a bit -- is more than satisfactory in third-line role. Especially when it only costs the Penguins two future mid-round draft picks while the Kings retain half of the salary.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.