Here’s an excerpt from my TribLive.com column on the Penguins’ protected list for Wednesday’s expansion draft. To read the entire column, click HERE.
Given Evgeni Malkin’s lengthy recovery from knee surgery, should the Penguins protect Jeff Carter by way of not exposing the center position to potential disaster?
The trepidation about exposing Carter is understandable. If Carter goes, Jared McCann is the Penguins’ second-line center and Teddy Blueger is third-line. The depth chart at center trickles up in a way that hurts the Penguins.
But it’s hard to imagine Seattle taking a 36-year-old who carries a $5.27 million cap hit, has one year left on his contract, will likely retire after that, and might well quit immediately if he’s claimed in the expansion draft. (Carter should make that known.)
Carter got red-hot for the Penguins: 13 goals in 20 games (including playoffs) after joining the team. But there’s no guarantee he’ll keep producing anywhere close to that, let alone skating on an expansion team. Carter hasn’t topped 17 goals in a season since 2016-17.
McCann is a better pick for an expansion team than Carter. So, the Penguins should expose Carter.