The Washington Capitals announced Saturday they re-signed defenseman John Carlson to a six-year, $23.8 million contract extension. Carlson, 22, will earn $3.8 million in 2012-13 and $4 million per year from the 2013-14 season through 2017-18.
“John is a talented young defenseman who has played very well for the Capitals and still has room to grow,” said Caps GM George McPhee. “He wanted to make a long-term commitment to the team and we are delighted that this young man who is an important part of our future will be a member of the club for many years to come.”
After Friday’s scrimmage, Carlson spoke to the Caps beat reporters about the new deal and why he insisted on a long-term contract.
“I think for me it’s comfort level,” Carlson said. “Knowing I’m going to be around, that I can focus on myself and the team rather than trying to focus on what comes next,” Carlson said. “I really like the city, I like the situation being close to home and the team that we have here. So I felt this is what I wanted to do and I was adamant about it.”
Carlson and defensive partner Karl Alzner are a well-balanced blue line tandem. Alzner’s stay-at-home dependability matches up with Carlson’s more elevated offensive game. In the playoffs last season though, Carlson exhibited a toughness that seemed to be lacking much of the regular season as former head coach Dale Hunter’s ultra-conservative system brought out a responsibility and defensive ruggedness in Carlson that many thought the player lacked.
“I felt that, obviously, I wasn’t at my best all season long. But I thought I played great in playoffs,” Carlson said. “I still think that I can get better and there’s things that I can take from last year, not just for playoffs but for myself to kind of know where I need to be every game. That’s just one of those things that you think a lot about in the summer, and when it comes time to play, I’ll have something I need to work on then.”
McPhee indicated on Friday that the team has been reluctant to issue multi-year deals, but with Carlson he saw the benefit of the extended contract, despite the uncertain conditions surrounding the current labor negotiations.
“We’ve done a lot of what we call bridge deals — just one- or two-year deals just to make sure that we knew what we have in the player and then if he turns out the way you hope, it’s easier to commit to the player going forward,” McPhee said. “In this case, we were pretty comfortable with what we have in the player, the direction he’s going in and what he can do.”
There’s plenty to like about Carlson’s game, though, as he continues to gain NHL experience.
“He’s a good size guy,” McPhee continued. “He’s strong enough in the corners to come up with the puck. He defends real well. He’s mobile. He’s got offense in his game. He stays healthy and hasn’t missed any games the last couple of years. So we thought in this particular case that the longer term would work for us.”