As a follow-up to this morning’s note on Jeff Carter, the Los Angeles Kings sent out a press release to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen clarifying the situation somewhat.
Kings center Jeff Carter sustained a cut to his left leg during the first period of last night’s game and today is undergoing a surgical procedure to repair the injury. He is out indefinitely.
For what it’s worth, John Shannon of Sportsnet was hearing earlier today that it was tendon damage for Carter, which would likely keep him out long-term. While we don’t have a clear timeline yet, the Kings will have to move on without one of their star forwards for the time being. Bob McKenzie of TSN relays a six to eight week timeline as a best case scenario.
Carter, 32, was coming off one of the best seasons of his career in 2016-17 when he scored 32 goals and 66 points, single-handily almost dragging the Kings’ offense to the playoffs. This year had started out a little slower with just three points in his first six games, but he was obviously still a huge part of their team. Before missing most of last night’s game, he had been averaging over 18 minutes per game and was a key part of both special teams.
Perhaps most importantly, Carter’s absence will put an immense strain on the Kings at the center position, where he and Anze Kopitar provided so much ice time. Nick Shore, the third line pivot will now be thrust into an even larger role while Nic Dowd and youngster Adrian Kempe will step into the bottom two spots. For a team that was already lacking scoring depth, losing perhaps the best pure goal man on the team is an incredibly unlucky blow.
In his absence, the team will be signing Brooks Laich to an NHL contract according to Rosen. The two-way deal will be worth $650K at the NHL level. Laich had attended training camp with the Kings but hadn’t earned a contract. The 34-year old forward played the entire 2016-17 campaign with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, buried by Toronto thanks to his hefty cap hit. Scoring just nine points in 27 games, he battled both injury and a lineup of prospects that he couldn’t crack. The Marlies clearly were acting as a development program for the Maple Leafs, and didn’t have much ice time for several of their buried veterans.
Still, he did only score 14 points in the 2015-16 season that was split between Washington and Toronto. Laich was once a perennial 20-goal man, but hasn’t scored more than 20 points in a season since 2011-12. He had been practicing with the team still, and was likely always going to be one of the first injury replacements. Interestingly, McKenzie notes that the team had actually agreed to terms with Laich before the game. The timeline on getting him to the NHL though is obviously accelerated.