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2020-21 Rink Wrap: John Carlson

From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2020-21 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2021-22. Next up, John Carlson.

Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins - Game Three Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

The Stats:

Regular Season


The Charts:

via Evolving-Hockey

The Key Stat: After setting a career-high in points per 60 last year (2.65), Carlson’s PP/60 dropped to 2.13. That’s still superb, but it did drop over .5 points per 60.

The Good: After setting career highs across the board last year in his Norris-caliber season, Carlson regressed a tad but was still outstanding at generating points. Carlson’s 44 points was tied for 5th amongst NHL defensemen, and his 25 points at 5v5 was second amongst NHL defensemen. Further, his 1.69 points per 60 at 5v5 was best amongst all NHL defensemen with at least 10 games played.

Just as encouraging: Carlson was also solid from a possession-standpoint. For the second straight year, Carlson posted an expected goals % above 50 (51.24%) and this was amongst his most-effective defensive seasons this year in the regular season...

The Bad: ..but we all have to reflect on the postseason, where Carlson was not anywhere near as effective. Carlson admitted after the year that he was playing through a some kind of knee injury, and we don’t know if it’s going to require surgery. That said, Carlson clearly wasn’t the same player in the playoffs. While out at 5v5 against Boston in the postseason, Carlson had an xGF% of 32.83% and a GF% of 33.33%, and Boston massively outshot and outchanced the Caps. Whether the knee injury was entirely to blame or not, the Caps are going to need Carlson at 100% health and effectiveness going into next year.

The Video:

The Discussion: The Capitals are paying John Carlson $8,000,000 a year for the next 5 years, so he’s likely not going anywhere. The big question for the Caps is whether Carlson can be the clear-cut #1 defensemen that they are paying him (and need him) to be. Although Carlson had another strong year in the regular season, he’s entering the point of his career trajectory where you’d expect him to decline slightly. Is that something we should expect, or can Carlson stave off father time for another couple of years? Also, does Carlson have another Norris-caliber campaign left in him at this point? Finally, what would it take for you to give Carlson a 10 for next year?

The Other Carlson Season Reviews: Coming soon!

The Vote: Rate John Carlson below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.


How do you rate John Carlson’s 2020-21 season?

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181 votes total Vote Now