John Carlson, a Man In the Offseason

Posted August 9, 2012

The two big names in the Caps RFA collection of summer 2012, John Carlson & Mike Green (Photo Credit: M. Richter)

When the qualifying offer (QO) deadline came around, the Caps were ahead of the game – everyone had been served, with no Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) being released into the wilds of unrestricted free agency.  However, following that QO, feet have been dragging when it comes to defenseman John Carlson.

It’s now August, and the fact that there is no news about Carlson is becoming news in and of itself.  He’s not popping up in the rumor mill, he’s just kicking back and offering twitter commentary on Rebecca Soni‘s swimsuit choices:

Rebecca Soni (pink suit), with teammates Dana Vollmer and Missy Franklin, celebrating their gold medal win in the 4x100 Medley Relay (Photo Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY via US-Presswire)

Carlson isn’t the only RFA d-man still sitting in limbo, of course.  PK Subban of the Montreal Canadiens is also in offer sheet territory.  Last year, Drew Doughty set a great example for ELC-expiring defensemen, holding out until the season began before signing an eight year/$56M deal with the Kings (of course, Doughty also had a Norris Trophy nomination on his resume, so slightly more demonstrated value).

It’s unknown which side is responsible for the hold-up when it comes to getting a contract signed.  Any number of factors could be weighing in, and arbitration was never an option even if his most recent season had been out of this world.  It wasn’t.

Here’s the thing, Carlson’s at his best – OT Game-Winner at the 2010 WJC for Team USA, Calder Cup-winner with the Hershey Bears, fantastic rookie season with the Caps (7G-30A-37P) – when he’s being John Carlson.  While trying to fill Mike Green‘s shoes while Green’s was on the injured reserve, Carlson wasn’t quite as dynamic (steady points – 9G-23A-32P, but his +/- went from +21 to -15).

Carlson has been a strong second-pairing defenseman for the Caps since making the NHL jump permanently in 2010, playing most of his minutes with his partner Karl Alzner (who signed a two-year extension with the Caps last summer).  While the Caps have a decent collection of defensive prospects and rising stars in their system – most notably Tomas Kundratek and Dmitry Orlov – Carlson has the advantage of being solidly through his adjustment phase.

Slow signatures or not, you can expect to see him back in a Capitals sweater next fall.