Prior to the offseason, one of the biggest questions facing the Capitals was whether top blueliner John Carlson would test free agency. After a career year (and oh yeah, a Stanley Cup), Carlson’s stock was sky high at exactly the right time - and there was a chance that between his value on the UFA market and the Caps’ tight salary cap situation, the Caps were going to have to bid farewell to their homegrown defenseman.
Looks like GM Brian MacLellan wasn’t quite ready to part with #74 so easily, though, as he moved out Brooks Orpik’s hefty $5.5 million cap hit right before the draft in part to make room for what is reportedly Carlson’s new deal: an 8-year, $64 million pact that keeps Carlson in DC until 2025.
The new contract makes Carlson the second-highest paid player on the team behind Alex Ovechkin ($9.5 mil) and takes advantage of the one thing the Caps could offer that other teams could not (besides “Uncle” Andre Burakovsky) - an eight-year deal, as unrestricted free agents can only get up to seven years o the open market.
UPDATE: And now it’s confirmed by the team -
The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman John Carlson to an eight-year contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. Carlson’s contract will carry an average annual value of $8.0 million.
”John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL,” said MacLellan. “Defenseman like John are a rare commodity in our League and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime. As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team’s success on the special teams. We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement and for him to continue his great career as a Washington Capital.”
Carlson, 28, recorded a career-high 15 goals and 53 assists last season and his 68 points led all NHL defensemen. Carlson became the eighth defensemen in franchise history to record 60 points in a season and the first since Mike Green in 2009-10 (76 points, 19g, 57a). In addition, the Natick, Mass., native recorded the seventh-highest single season point total in franchise history. Carlson became the third Capitals defenseman to lead the NHL in points since 2000 (Sergei Gonchar: 2001-02, 59 points; Mike Green: 2008-09, 2009-10: 73 and 76 points, respectively). Carlson’s 24:47 minutes per game was tied for 12th in the NHL and a new personal high. The 6’3”, 218-pound defenseman finished fifth in the Norris Trophy vote as the NHL’s top defenseman.
Carlson was selected by the Capitals in the first round, 27th overall, in the 2008 NHL Draft. Carlson has earned 333 points (77g, 256a) in 608 career NHL games with Washington and ranks sixth all-time among franchise defensemen in career assists and seventh in games played, goals and points. His 199 points (44g, 155a) over the last four seasons is the ninth-most in the NHL among defensemen. Carlson is one of 28 active defensemen with at least 300 career points.
During the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run, Carlson recorded 20 points (5g, 15a), which is a franchise record by a defenseman in the postseason. Additionally, Carlson’s playoff point total was the third-most in a single postseason by a defenseman in the playoffs over the last five seasons. In 100 career playoff games, Carlson has recorded 55 points (18g, 37a). He leads the franchise in career playoff goals and points and ranks third in assists.
Carlson recorded 37 points (9g, 28a) in 72 games with the Capitals during the 2016-17 season. He ranked first among Capitals defensemen in goals and assists and finished second in points.
Since entering the league in 2009, Carlson has participated in a full season six times. Carlson played in his 600th NHL/Capitals game on March 24, 2018 at Montreal. He is one of eight defensemen in franchise history to reach the 600-game mark. Carlson also holds the third-longest consecutive games played streak in franchise history, appearing in 412 consecutive games from April 9, 2010 to Dec. 26, 2015.
Internationally Carlson has represented the United States at the World Cup (2016), the Olympic Games (2014) and the World Junior Championship (2010). As an alternate captain for the 2010 World Junior Championship team, Carlson won a gold medal and scored the overtime championship winner against Canada. He was named to the World Junior Championship All Star Team and led all World Junior Championship defensemen in goals scored (3).