John Carlson was once seen as one of the linchpins of the Capitals special teams; however, his role slipped with the arrival of Kevin Shattenkirk last season. He frequently skated with Matt Niskanen in this new role on the second powerplay group. Carlson has a reputation as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, certainly on the Caps roster. When not shooting himself, he is creating opportunities for the forwards, feeding them the puck at just the right moment. Unfortunately, many believe that some of those skills seem to be slipping away from the talented blue liner.
Carlson was drafted by the Capitals in 2008 and with buddies Karl Alzner and Jay Beagle was a member of the 2008/09 Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears. He played his first game with the Caps in November 2009 recording six points in 22 games and scoring his first NHL goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in March 2010. He quickly became known for his speed and aggressive play, blocking forwards heading to the Caps net. He moves the puck smoothly toward the opponents net and has been one of the highest scoring defensemen in the NHL.
Carly has seen is fair share of missed games due to injury. He was out in April 2017 for the last four games of the regular season due to a lower-body injury and it wasn’t clear if he would make it for the playoffs. He was also out earlier in the season, again for a lower-body injury, missing six games.
During 2015/16 season Carly was on his way to claiming the Iron Man (playing 412 consecutive games) title for the team when he was injured in December and missed 12 games. He then missed another 13 games following corrective surgery for a fractured ankle. He returned with a bang in March, scoring the overtime game winning goal against the New Jersey Devils. It was obvious when he came back the first time that he wasn’t quite himself. He never really seemed to recover from that period off.
The Caps placed Carlson on the protected list during the recent NHL expansion draft, offering up Nate Schmidt instead. The team also indicated their faith in Brooks Orpik when they said they weren’t considering a buy-out of his contract to open up some salarly cap space. Also back this season are Taylor Chorney, Matt Niskanen and the newly signed Dmitry Orlov who is likely to find himself on the special team’s top group. It remains to be seen who will join them when the season kicks off on 5 October. Given Carlson’s injury record, it would behoove the Caps to have seven defensemen on the roster.
Since joining the Capitals in 2009, Carlson has played 526 games, scoring 62 goals and assisting on another 203 for the team. This past season he ranked eighth on the team for overall points and sixth for assists. However, when it comes to plus/minus on the team, he ranks lowest for the defensemen – Brooks Orpik has a +32 while Carlson ended the regular season a +7, his personal lowest in the past three seasons. And, he has the third highest ice time on the team–suggesting the high level of confidence Coach Barry Trotz has in his abilities. His playoff performance has been fairly steady over time, he routinely scores at least two goals, scoring on the power play. His plus/minus tends to drop which is a contributing factor to the teams inability to advance to round three and the finals. We hope to see John and the rest of the team get past whatever holds them back in the playoffs.
John Carlson: defenseman, dad, and devoted husband. He and his wife Gina are slowly grooming their son Lucca into a hockey player in his own right! The couple married in September 2014 welcoming Lucca to the family in June 2015.They live quietly and close to Gina’s family in Maryland. Gina is an active fund raiser for St. Judes. Check out her fundrasing page to become part of her donor team and follower her on Instagram to participate in her raffles during the season, which frequently include Caps tickets and a meet and greet with John.
Carlson seems to have been banged up quite a bit the past few seasons. He never really seemed to come back as strong after his first injury, leaving us wondering what is holding him back. We are looking forward to seeing the old Carly back to playing a key role in the team’s success. The team needs his grit and fight to get further in the playoffs this coming season. Additionally, he will be one of the blueliners responsible for mentoring junior players joining the team and together they have an opportunity to one of the strongest group of defensemen in the league this season. We’ll see how big a role he plays on the man-advantage unit this season and if his PP scoring numbers are on the rise.