Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson will have his work cut out for him this coming season. The Capitals which had one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league had no choice to break up their team due to salary cap issues. The team was forced to say goodbye to several players on their defense, including Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner, and Nate Schmidt, leaving Carlson to take on an even bigger role next year.
The defense does still have some of their high-paid defensemen remaining on the roster, including 30-year-old Matt Niskanen, who has four years remaining on the contract he signed in 2014 at $5.75MM AAV. Brooks Orpik, 36, still has two years remaining on his deal which pays him $5.5MM annually. The Capitals also locked up 26-year-old Dmitry Orlov to a new six-year, $30.6MM deal this offseason.
Carlson, who may have been one of the least noticed defenseman on his team, is currently fourth among the highest paid Capitals’ defenders at $3.96MM for one more year. He put up solid numbers of nine goals and 28 assists in 22:43 average minutes of ice time. He will likely have to do that again as the depth ends there.
Carlson said he has always been used to youth in the clubhouse with last year being an exception, so the 27-year-old veteran is not surprised the Capitals are trending in that direction, according to Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic. Carlson said he wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up playing with a rookie next season.
Currently, fifth on their depth chart is 30-year Taylor Chorney, who played in 18 games last year. AHL defenders Christian Djoos (58 points in 66 games) and Madison Bowey (14 points in 34 games) are currently penciled on the defensive depth chart. There is even some talk the Capitals might entertain promoting 2016 first-rounder Lucas Johansen from the WHL.
The team still has time to make some additions as they still have more than $4MM in cap space. They could attempt to sign a free agent like Cody Franson to a minimal deal or attempt to broker a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights for one of their many defenders, but the Capitals have other holes to fill on offense as well, so in the end, they may go with what they have.
- Gone unnoticed was that the Capitals changed the name of their stadium last week. Previously known as the Verizon Center since 2006, the new stadium will be called Capital One Arena, according to NHL.com. Originally opened in 1997 as the MCI Center, and while the connection between Capital One and the Capitals is a clever one, the arena is also home to the Washington Wizards of the NBA, the Washington Mystics of the WNBA and Georgetown University basketball.