With their first-ever Stanley Cup championship in the books, the Washington Capitals now will turn their attention to the upcoming off-season. John Carlson is regarded as the top free-agent defenseman this summer, and his market value may be too steep for the Capitals’ pockets. As his looming free agency approaches, Carlson expressed his desire to remain a Capital.
“I love it here,” Carlson explained to reporters at the team’s locker clean-out Wednesday, according to NBC Sports’ Tarik El-Bashir. “I want to stay here, but there’s more to it than that.”
Carlson is coming off a career season in which he led all NHL defensmen with 68 points in the regular season. he second that in the postseason with 20 points in 24 games. His plus-11 was only second to teammate Brooks Orpik in the postseason among defensemen.
Carlson was drafted 27th overall in the first round of the 2008 NHL draft by the Capitals. He has spent all nine seasons of his NHL career with Washington. However, he is at a prime age of 28 and at the top of his game. He is hitting the open market at a perfect time, and the Capitals have little room to work with their salary cap to try and retain him. According to CapFriendly, Washington has roughly $11.2 million of cap space entering the summer with forwards Tom Wilson, Jay Beagle, Devante Smith-Pelly, and blue-line mate Michal Kempny joining Carlson as possible free agents.
General manager Brian MacLellan will face a daunting challenge to either keep Carlson or find a suitable replacement in the event of the top blue-liner’s departure.