Wednesday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie served as an analyst on NBCSN’s pre and postgame coverage of its nationally televised game between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks.
During a segment with Kathryn Tappen at the end of the night, McKenzie shared some inside information around the NHL, which included a bit about pending unrestricted free agent John Carlson.
The defenseman’s six-year, $23.8 million contract ($3.96M cap hit) that he originally signed in 2012 expires this July. If Carlson does not re-sign, he could become one of the most popular players on the free-agent market.
“There have been zero talks — in the formal sense –between John Carlson and the Washington Capitals on a new contract,” Bob McKenzie said. “But that doesn’t mean there won’t be in the next little while. It is believed that sometime between now and the Christmas break, the Washington Capitals will reach out to Carlson to get a sense of what he’s thinking and what it might cost to re-up long term with the Washington Capitals.
“He’s obviously been a hugely important part of their blue line this year especially when Matt Niskanen was out of the lineup for a prolonged period of time,” McKenzie continued. “Carlson was playing ridiculous minutes – the most in the National Hockey League. Those minutes have been backed off, which is better, I think, for him longterm in terms of not getting worn down and playing at his peak efficiency. So how those talks go between now and Christmas for example, might dictate as to whether or not those talks get traction or whether both sides pull back and say, ‘Hey, this is also something that could be done before the end of the regular season or at the regular season.’ Or of course the possibility exists that John Carlson could go to market as one of the primary unrestricted free agent defensemen in the summer of 2018.”
Tune into @NBCSN now for WSH-CHI pre-game show with @KathrynTappen @BrianBoucher33 and the one and only Ed Olczyk, as well as myself. No @KeithShamong20 tonite. Game starts at 8 pm ET. pic.twitter.com/98MsRELXrB
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 7, 2017
In 2018-19, the Capitals are scheduled to have 10 members of its current roster become free agents, most of whom are depth players. Carlson will be a UFA along with Lars Eller, Jay Beagle, Taylor Chorney, and Alex Chiasson. Meanwhile, Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Tyler Graovac, Madison Bowey, and Philipp Grubauer are all set to become restricted free agents.
The next summer, Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana (RFAs) will also be in need of extensions.
The Capitals, however, may benefit in Carlson’s contract negotiations from what is expected to be a rising salary cap. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the cap could rise to somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million next year.
With the NHL's Board of Governors set to provide an update this week, @FriedgeHNIC reports that the salary cap could rise to somewhere in the neighbourhood of $80 million next year.https://t.co/P6MeT71e5A pic.twitter.com/Pfmdz9D1yy
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 3, 2017
“There is a sense and a hope that they’re going to hear that the league is hoping for something in the neighborhood of $80 million,” Friedman said during Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment on Saturday. “We’re at $75 million now—they’re hoping to hear something around $80 million, depending on what the Players’ Association wants to do.”
The 26-year-old Carlson could potentially be looking for a contract that pays him up to six million a year or more, making him one of the 20 highest-paid defensemen in the league.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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