There are no friends, no relationship right now when it comes to the Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights as they are fighting for the ultimate prize in the Stanley Cup final. Heading into Game 3 tonight, there is no way we could imagine one player switching camps, however, it seems like it could be possible once the Cup is hoisted and this final is in the books.
According to NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, one Capitals key player could be heading to Vegas once the Stanley Cup final is over with, in a move that would certainly be one for the ages. While many believe that star defenseman John Carlson to re-sign with the Capitals this summer, the man who is playing the best hockey of his life right now is expected to get paid quite a bit of cash.
Which could be an issue in Washington... LeBrun explained the problem the Caps are facing in his latest article in The Athletic:
"However, this is a salary cap league, and I think you’re looking at eight years and between $7.5 million to $8 million a year to get Carlson signed. And perhaps more than $8 million.
So, what if the Caps can’t swing it?
There would be at least a half dozen serious suitors for the top UFA blueliner on the market, a right-handed offensive stud coming off a career year. And a half dozen is probably being conservative.
Which brings me to Vegas. Consider that the Golden Knights almost traded for superstar defenceman Erik Karlsson at the trade deadline. I mean, it was really, really close.
What does that tell you? To me it says Vegas management saw an area it wanted to address, particularly as far as a premier, offensive, puck-moving, power play stud defenceman."
The Knights were reportedly quite close to landing Karlsson at the deadline, and while Carlson is not Karlsson, he could fill that need in Vegas in the best way possible. There is already a relationship between Vegas general manager George McPhee and Carlson, which could help the negotiations this summer.
“I have a ton of respect for George,” Carlson told media in Washington last week before the Cup final began. “I was here with him for a while. He drafted me and I have a relationship with him. It’s great to see him have success somewhere else. I knew he would, based on the pieces that he put in place here.”
The Golden Knights are not expected to be timid with their cap room space this offseason, and could make Carlson an offer he simply can't refuse. However, for now, the star blue liner is focused on winning the Stanley Cup with the Capitals and has mentioned in the past he hopes to re-sign in Washington.
But who knows?!