Today, the Washington Capitals signed restricted free agent defenseman, John Carlson to a six year contract, cementing the highly skilled offensive defenseman as a big part of Washington’s defense moving forward. Carlson signed for $23.8 million over the six years, giving him a cap hit of just under four million per season. Washington avoids two years of unrestricted free agency with Carlson and keep him long term at such a young age. The 22 year old defenseman will earn $3.8 million in the 2012-2013 campaign and four million per season in the final five years of the deal.
Capitals General Manager, George McPhee made the announcement the day before the lockout. “John is a talented young defenseman who has played very well for the Capitals and still has room to grow,” said McPhee. “He wanted to make a long term commitment to the team and we are delighted that this young man who is an important part of our future will be a member of the club for many years to come.”
Last season, Carlson contributed nine goals and 23 assists on the Washington blue line, registering a career high in goals scored. He also lead the Capitals defensemen with four power play goals. The Capitals first round pick from the 2008 NHL entry draft led Washington with 153 blocked shots, showing his commitment to becoming a two way defenseman. He has won at almost every level he’s played except the NHL. The American born defenseman scored the game wining goal for the United States in the 2010 World Junior Championship against Canada helping the U.S. earn gold medal honors. He also contributed to a Hershey Bears Calder Cup in 2010, notching seven points in 13 playoff games at the American Hockey League level.
This signing was a great one by McPhee. He slightly overpaid another highly skilled offensive defenseman earlier this offseason in Mike Green, but made up for it with the Carlson signing. Carlson is a player who could easily develop into one the best offensive defenseman in NHL, standing alongside the likes of Drew Doughty and fellow teammate Mike Green. With an annual cap hit of under four million per season, he definitely took a little less than he could have gotten, either from the Capitals or on an offer sheet by another NHL club.
When looking at comparable defenseman Carlson holds a stellar cap hit. He earns less than Tampa Bay defenseman, Victor Hedman and veteran defenseman, Christian Ehrhoff of the Buffalo Sabres. Another other young defenseman that makes the Carlson signing a steal is Luke Schenn. Schenn, also 22 signed a long term deal with his former club, the Toronto Maple Leafs that earned him a cap hit over $3.6 per season over five years. Schenn is a solid young defenseman like Carlson, but Carlson has far more offensive upside.
This deal cements an already young defense unit for Washington, now having Dmitry Orlov, Mike Green, Karl Alzner and John Carlson under contract. The Capitals also signed Cameron Schilling last spring and he will be under contract with Washington for the future. This could possibly be the answer to Washington’s post season problems. They have always had a high flying offense, but struggled keeping teams off the scoreboard in the post season. With Braden Holtby continuing to improve in net, the Capitals could continue to play strong defensively while still having one the most feared power plays in the NHL.
Unfortunately, Capitals fans will have to wait to see the newly extended Carlson as the lockout will begin Saturday at midnight.