CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2012-13 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: John Carlson
Ht/Wt: 6-3, 212
Penalty minutes: 18
Average Ice Time: 23:01
Contract Status: 5 years remaining on 6-year, $23.8 million contract [$3.966 cap hit in 2012-13]
Strengths: Among Caps defensemen, Carlson finished second behind Mike Green in goals, assists, points and ice time and was second behind only Eric Fehr [plus-14] in plus-minus. That’s significant considering Carlson was a minus-15 last season and was a minus-3 after 11 games, meaning he was a plus-14 in the final 37. Carlson has developed very quickly in his first three full seasons. He has excellent speed, good vision and a deceptively hard and accurate shot that gives the Caps a rare 1-2 punch from the blue line at both even strength and on the power play.
Weaknesses: Carlson cleaned up a lot of his deficiencies in the defensive zone, but like a lot of his teammates, was not very effective against the Rangers in the playoffs, where he had no goals on 21 shots, one assist and was a minus-4. Carlson’s ice time dropped from a series-high 24:48 in Game 5 to a series-low 17:48 in Game 7.
Memorable Moment: After playing together for the better part of three season, Carlson and Karl Alzner were split up in late January after the two were on the ice for nine goals in three straight losses to the Jets. Canadiens and Devils. Alzner was paired with Mike Green and Carlson was paired with John Erskine and the top two units remained together for the rest of the season. As for memorable quotes, Carlson had this one on head coach Adam Oates: “He left positive messages in our heads the whole time. He was almost to the point where sometimes you just wanted to get yelled at.”
2013-14 Expectations: When the Caps re-signed Carlson to a six-year deal that pays him just under $4 million a season, they saw him as a defensive pillar for years to come. At 23 years old, an age most defensemen are just breaking into the NHL, Carlson still has plenty of upside and if he is paired with a steady partner next season he should build on a strong start to his career.