Given John Carlson’s lack of experience, the way the Capitals have handled other prospects with kid gloves and the risk of burning a season of cost-controlled salary, the common logic has been that Carlson’s 2009-2010 stay with the big club would be brief. But it’s starting to look like Carlson is up here for more than just the standard cup of coffee.
Following Thursday’s win over the Lightning, Carlson had started each of the last three games in favor of Tyler Sloan and/or John Erskine. Why? Because he’s been awesome, at least if you believe the Behind the Net statistics.
1) John Carlson – 3.25
2) Jeff Schultz – 2.64
3) Mike Green – 2.17
1) John Carlson – 1.39
2) Jeff Schultz – 1.72
3) John Erskine – 1.76
1) Mike Green – 4.81
2) John Carlson – 4.64
3) Jeff Schultz – 4.36
1) John Carlson – 2.25
2) Jeff Schultz – 1.60
3) Mike Green – 1.16
The numbers suggest that Carlson deserves a shot at keeping his starting job. If he’s already head and shoulders above the other third-pairing options and continues to perform at this level, he can help the team win NOW.
Some argue that if the Caps are going to go with one of the youngsters on D, it should be Karl Alzner, who is more seasoned and has already forfeited a cost-controlled year. The problem is, Alzner is dead last in every one of the above statistics among Caps D except for GFON/60, where he is ahead of only Joe Corvo (who hasn’t been playing with a historically-great offense all season).
Is it really that out of the realm of possibility that Carlson is ready now? He has dominated every single level he’s played including the AHL. Also, while most rookie D struggle at first, there are exceptions to every rule. Just look at Tyler Myers in Buffalo.
The Capitals clearly have their sights set on the Stanley Cup this year. They forfeited draft picks and a prospect to go for it now. Giving up a cost-controlled season of Carlson would be another small sacrifice to make for the chance to improve the team this year.
Keep the kid up. He has at least earned the right to compete for a starting job in the playoffs.