For the first time since the beginning of their rivalry, the Washington Capitals were finally able to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins. In six games, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin finally got the better of Pens captain Sidney Crosby, and now Pittsburgh is left with important questions and moves to make ahead of next season. While it may be shocking to hear, it seems like the six-game second round series allowed Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford to window-shop and find exactly what he wants… in Washington.
One thing was made clear during the series, the Pittsburgh blue line was not strong enough to face the offensive boost from the Capitals. Rutherford now has found exactly what he needs, even if it means to make a strong push to land a rival player who just eliminated his team.
According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, Pittsburgh is expected to scrape up the money and push very, very hard to sign Caps pending free agent defenseman John Carlson this summer.
“Their defense wasn't good enough against Washington,” he added on social media yesterday.
It remains to be been what the Penguins will do with veteran defenseman Kris Letang, who struggled this season. The trade chatter has intensified so much that the defender himself had to make something clear on Wednesday when meeting with the media.
"I sacrifice everything for this team. I want to spend the rest of my career here.”
Both Carlson and Letang are right-shooting defenders, but it should not be a problem seeing that Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz are all left-shooting blue liners.
Carlson could indeed be an interesting option for the Penguins, though they will need to be smart with their money to make such a significant move this summer. The pending free agent won’t be cheap and could be worth anywhere between $7-8 million average annual value.
However, it is certain that Carlson has the ideal size and build for an NHL defenseman at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds. At 28 years old, he is likely in the prime of his career, and represents a rare option of a top-pairing defenseman at his peak available through free agency or trades.