Monday, June 27, 2011
Jeff Carter says he's looking ahead
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There may have been feelings of shock, anger and resentment when Jeff Carter discovered he had been traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Columbus Blue Jackets last week.
But that was last week.
"I'm in Columbus now," Carter said. "I'm not worried about what's going on (in Philadelphia) anymore."
Indeed, it may take some time for everyone to believe the high-scoring center is over his sudden deal to Columbus. But, on the surface at least, he's putting on a good face.
In a conference call with Ohio media on Monday, Carter began to move forward with his new club, and in particular, his new linemate, Rick Nash.
"Anytime you can get a chance to play with Rick, it puts a smile on your face," Carter said. "I'm excited to get out there and see what we can do together. A lot of people have been keying on him, and it's not easy to do things by yourself. I'm looking forward to helping him out, and helping the team out."
Both could use it.
Nash, a 6-foot-4, 218-pound forward, has been the centerpiece of the Blue Jackets' existence, and for the most part, has lived up to the billing that a No. 1 overall pick comes with. Selected in 2002, Nash has scored 30 or more goals six times, but has only led Columbus to the postseason once.
The hope is that Carter can help change that.
"The last eight or nine years, he's been the real focal point," Carter said of Nash. "I'm excited about really letting him develop into a better player than he is now."
The Blue Jackets and Flyers made a huge offseason splash last Thursday, when they finalized a long-rumored deal that sent forward Jakub Voracek and two draft picks to Philadelphia for Carter, who scored 36 goals and was a plus-27 last year as the Flyers won the Atlantic Division.
The Flyers needed to make salary-cap room for new goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, and despite the fact that Carter had been mentioned in rumors, and seemed a logical trim off the payroll, the deal still stunned many in and around the organization, including Carter.
After all, Carter, 26, helped lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010, and seemed like part of a nucleus that could again contend for a title next season. He was a 2003 first-round pick and had scored at least 30 goals in each of the last three seasons for Philadelphia.
But the 6-3, 200-pound forward made it clear on Monday that he's mostly interested in talking about his new team now.
"You look at the lineup now, we've got a lot of young players that are going to be really good," he said. "It's still a work in progress, but I think we can be pretty good."
In 2008-09, Columbus had 41 wins and 92 points, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time. They have not been back since, finishing below .500 in each of the last two seasons, registering 79 and 81 points, respectively.
It's that lack of success -- and playing in the Eastern time zone as a Western Conference team -- that has helped lead to a bout with anonymity in league circles.
But again, that is something Carter hopes to change.
"A lot of people don't know much about us," he said. "We're still a work in progress. And if we can add a few more pieces to the puzzle, I don't see any reason why we can't contend for the playoffs this year."