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John Carlson’s Substantial Ice Time Will Play into Contract Negotiations
John Carlson (Caps Outsider)
With the departure of Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Kevin Shattenkirk, it’s no surprise that John Carlson is playing more minutes on the blueline this season. When Matt Niskanen injured his hand several weeks ago, and with the Caps’ rookie defensemen showing growing pains, Carlson’s minutes increased even more.
Though the Caps are only 16 games into the season, I thought it would be interesting to see where Carlson’s minutes stack up to other Caps in past seasons. The NHL only has Time on Ice data from the 1997-1998 season, so in the past 21 years, Carlson’s average ice time is second most on the Caps, behind Sergei Gonchar, who averaged nearly 28 minutes a game in the horrendous 2003-2004 season before being traded to Boston.
Carlson’s minutes will likely decrease once Niskanen returns, but his time on ice average during this stretch will carry substantial weight during his next contract negotiation, even if his offensive output has decreased as a result. He’s currently the fourth highest-paid defenseman on the team behind Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and Dmitry Orlov, all of whom make more than $5 million a year. The two largest contracts coming off the books this coming offseason will be Lars Eller‘s $3.5 million and Jay Beagle‘s $1.75, assuming they’re not re-signed. Perhaps the Caps can get a hometown discount, but if Carlson commands at minimum the $5.75 million a season (same as Niskanen), the Caps will most certainly lose another experienced forward just to retain his services, which won’t make the Caps any better next season.
All-in-all, there’s no better time for Carlson to be getting so many minutes and one way or another, he will be rewarded for it. And one way or another, the Caps will have more holes to fill.