John Carlson is having a career year and it couldn’t come at a better time for the defenseman. The longtime Capital’s six-year, $23.8 million contract ($3.96M cap hit) expires this July. And if Carlson does not re-sign with the Caps, he would be one of the most sought out players on the free-agent market.
On Thursday, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan spoke to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti and expressed the team’s significant interest in bringing Carlson back next year.
“I think in the beginning [of the season], we were wondering where we were going to be as a team,” MacLellan said to Gulitti. “[Now], we’re going to want him back no matter what, so we’re going to make our best effort to bring him back.”
MacLellan added that he didn’t think it was a must to re-sign Carlson before the NHL trade deadline (February 26) and inferred that the two camps could negotiate into the early summer if necessary. The Capitals took a similar route with TJ Oshie when the team gave the forward an eight-year retirement contract in June 2017.
“It’s been impressive what he’s done, especially with [Matt] Niskanen’s injury,” MacLellan continued. “He’s really stepped up for the team, taken on the extra minutes, played hard. He’s gotten through it. He’s put up great points. He’s having a great year. He’s been here a long time, he’s been a big part of the organization and, hopefully, he continues to be going forward.”
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. The cap is projected to rise to between $78 and $82 million next year.
This GMBM interview follows a report by NBCSN’s Bob McKenzie that the Caps and Carlson were expected to talk sometime during the holiday season about a new deal. As of January 3, however, that had not happened yet according to The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan.
Carlson, who was snubbed for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, has 34 points this season which ranks second only to John Klingberg (30) in scoring among NHL defensemen. Carlson is also fourth among all NHL players in ice time 26:17.
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