Star defenseman and pending free agent John Carlson had the season of a lifetime. So did the Washington Capitals, who have been able to count on the veteran blue liner for the last 10 years, when they drafted Carlson in the first round of the National Hockey League Entry draft... Carlson has now been on a team-friendly contract for the past six seasons that paid him roughly $4 million per year.
Things are about to change. With Carlson coming off a career year with 15 goals and 53 assists, making him the top-scoring blue-liner in the NHL, while averaging more than 25 minutes per game, his salary is expected to at least double.
And it now seems like things will change more than first expected. With Carlson's camp and general manager Brian MacLellan unable to reach an agreement this weekend, before the free agent is eligible to meet with other teams starting at noon Sunday, it seems like Carlson will go look elsewhere.
“As of the moment we do not have a deal in place with Washington and as permitted, I am getting/taking calls from other interested teams," revealed Carlson's agent Rick Curran to NHL insider Bob McKenzie on Sunday morning.
While both camps might be struggling to find the right price tag for Carlson's contract extension, McKeznie's colleague and TSN insider Pierre LeBrun also believes that bonus structure for potential lockout years remains a strong issue in the ongoing discussions.
On Friday, it seems like Curran appeared more encouraged by the development, stating to the Washington Post that he was “certainly encouraged by the move to create the necessary cap space,” after Washington packaged veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik (and his $5.5 million salary cap hit) with backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche.
The Capitals have more than $21 million to work with now that the salary cap has jumped to $79.5 million for next seasons according to the information provided by CapFriendly. MacLellan has said the Capitals’ priorities are Carlson, Michal Kempny and restricted free agent winger Tom Wilson, and then the team will “make some decisions after that.”
However, MacLellan will now have to fight off other teams who are calling about Carlson. If he hits the open market July 1, he could only get a seven-year contract at most, but he would be the best blue-liner available.