Jeff Carter has been a good player for a lot of years. The forward led the Kings in goals (32) and points (66) a season ago, and has 339 career goals with Philadelphia, Columbus and the Kings.
But Carter sustained a laceration to his left leg during an Oct. 18 victory over Montreal at Staples Center. The injury occurred when Carter was checked by the Canadiens’ Jeff Petry, whose skate cut the side of Carter’s ankle. Carter had surgery and has not played since.
He recently began skating again, and Kings coach John Stevens said Saturday that Carter will play again this season. However, Stevens said Carter isn’t there yet, when asked if he could set a timeline for his return.
“I think it’s too early, but I will say that he’s a little bit excited about some of the progress he’s made,” said Stevens, whose team next hosts Edmonton (22-24-4, 48 points) on Wednesday night at 7:30.
The first-year coach said Carter must first begin to skate with the team before he can surmise when he will able to return to active duty. As of now, he’s skating on his own.
“It’s one thing to get medically cleared to get to that point, and then it’s a whole other hockey perspective of where you have to get your skating legs and your timing and get involved in drills and all that kind of stuff – and contact, eventually,” Stevens said. “So I think he is progressing. I think we’re excited about some of the jumps he’s made in his rehab this week.”
Carter could revitalize the team’s inconsistent offense. But Stevens said Carter is more than just a good offensive player. He plays in all situations, and is also solid defensively, Stevens said.
“He’s got good size, good speed, can score, but he’s a very sound defensive player and he provides leadership for our hockey team,” Stevens said. “So if you had a list, he’d check a lot of boxes.”
Carter, 33, played his first six seasons with Philadelphia. He began the 2011-12 campaign at Columbus, but was traded to the Kings mid-season.
The Kings were coming off a 5-0 loss Thursday at Nashville when they demolished the lowly Arizona Coyotes 6-0 on Saturday night at Staples Center. Forward Adrian Kempe, who had a goal and an assist, liked the way his team rebounded.
“We really bounced back since last game,” said Kempe, who has 15 goals and 10 assists. “We really went back and looked at ourselves and were thinking about what we could do better. I think we proved that tonight.
“We played a solid 60 minutes and that’s something we’ve been looking for the last couple of weeks.”
The Kings (28-19-5, 61 points) are in third place in the Pacific Division, a point ahead of Anaheim and Calgary. A third-place divisional finish guarantees a playoff spot. … Defenseman Alec Martinez (lower-body) was a scratch Saturday and is day-to-day. … After Wednesday’s game against Edmonton, the Kings embark on a seven-game trip.
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