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When Capitals defenseman John Carlson met with the media earlier today, the biggest topic of discussion was the former first-round pick’s pending unrestricted free agency, when, if he is unable to reach an agreement with the Caps, he will have a plethora of teams calling for his services. While there has been mass speculation about the exact salary on his next deal, the recent reports of Arizona Coyotes’ defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s new contract could give Carlson’s agent a starting point in discussions, which could make negotiations with the Caps a pricey dilemma.
Per TSN’s Darren Dreger, Ekman-Larsson’s new deal is worth $66 million over eight seasons, an annual average salary of $8.25 million. Considering that Ekman-Larsson is one of the NHL’s best young blueliners and has averaged 36 points over his eight-year NHL career (including a career-high 55 points in 2015-16), and at 26-years old, is two years younger than Carlson. While they salary cap is expected to increase this offseason, and the NHL Player’s Association has the choice to vote on an Escalator Clause to raise the salary cap and that will almost certainly happen.
Numbers speculated on OEL verbal agreement are correct. 8 yrs…$8.25 aav. No move clause. Likely captaincy. Yotes and OEL…all in.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 12, 2018
Carlson, who is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-high 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists), is all-but guaranteed to earn more than his current salary of $3,966,667 and it is not out of the realm of possibility that Carlson’s agent begins negotiations at $8 million per season. Carlson expressed his desire to remain with the Caps, but also emphasized that there is more to it than simply staying. While it is possible Carlson could be willing to take a hometown discount to remain with the Capitals, if he does, it likely wouldn’t be by much.
Whatever happens this summer, one thing is certain: negotiations with Carlson won’t be a walk in the park for Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan, who also has expiring contracts of Jay Beagle (Unrestricted free agent), Tom Wilson (Restricted free agent), Michal Kempny, and a multitude of others to deal with. Ekman-Larsson’s new deal may have just made the negotiating table a whole new ball-, err, hockey game.
By Michael Fleetwood