One of the top free agents of the 2018 free agent class came off the board as the Washington Capitals have announced the re-signing of defenseman John Carlson to an eight-year $64MM deal, with an AAV of $8MM. The deal gives Carlson the second-highest AAV among NHL defenseman behind Nashville’s P.K. Subban ($9MM), at least until the extension that the Arizona Coyotes gave Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($8.25MM) kicks in next season. San Jose’s Brent Burns also has an $8MM AAV.
Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reports the breakdown of the contract is as follows:
2018-19: $6.5MM signing bonus, $5.5MM salary
2019-20: $6.5MM signing bonus, $5.5MM salary
2020-21: $2MM signing bonus, $6MM salary
2021-22: $5MM signing bonus, $3MM salary
2022-23: $2MM signing bonus, $4MM salary
2023-24: $2MM signing bonus, $4MM salary
2024-25: $2MM signing bonus, $4MM salary
2025-26: $2MM signing bonus, $4MM salary
While there had been talk that Carlson and the Stanley Cup winning Capitals were close to an agreement on Friday, there was some concern this morning when the two parties still hadn’t come to an agreement with rumors that Carlson would listen to offers from other teams, suggesting they hit an impasse in negotiations.
Carlson, who has been with the Capitals for all nine of his years, had a breakout year just in time, putting up 15 goals and 68 points, while playing a major role quarterbacking the Capitals power play through the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup. His 20 points in 24 playoff games was critical of the team. Due to the team’s budget constraints, there were many questions whether Washington had the money to make a new deal with Carlson work. With almost no cap room, the Capitals solved many of those problems when they traded backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado in exchange for a second-round pick Friday at the NHL Entry Draft, freeing up enough cap room to make the move possible.
While the 28-year-old may not be the third of fourth best defenseman in the league, Carlson was in an enviable bargaining position and after Carlson and his negotiating team also had the most recent extension of Ekman-Larsson to work with in contract discussions.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report that a deal was near completion.