Capitals Player Report Card: John Carlson

John Carlson

Stats:  82 GP, 7 Goals, 30 Assists, 37 Points, +21, 44 PIM
Contract: $845, 833 Cap Hit, signed through 2011-12
Player Card

Scoring Chance Percentage Ranking: 12/29
Defensemen: 4/10
Balanced Corsi Rating: 5/29
Defensemen: 1/10

Some say that he was overlooked in the Calder Trophy race but it’s hard for a defenseman to stand out in a year where there were so many great rookies in the NHL, even one who had as great of a season as John Carlson did. Already a Caps fan-favorite due to his heroics at the World Junior’s and in last year’s playoffs, the expectations for Carlson were somewhat high but I don’t think many people saw a 21 year old stepping in as part of the team’s shutdown pair and arguably being the team’s best all-around defenseman so early in his career.

I have always liked Carlson and expected him to be a second pairing offensive defenseman going into this season. Injuries to Mike Green and Tom Poti made him step into a much bigger role and he thrived in it. You can see how his ice time increased after roughly 11 games and he seemed to be comfortable in that role. He ended up leading the Capitals in total ice time this season and he along with Karl Alzner saw the toughest competition every night from opposing teams. Even better news is that they both put up impressive corsi numbers despite being so young and seeing tough competition.

From an offensive standpoint, Carlson also had a very good year. 7 goals and 37 points for a rookie defenseman is impressive and he was in the top half of the team when it came to creating scoring chances. He also seemed to be one of the best players on the team when it came to getting the puck moving in the right direction. Very high balanced corsi rating and he finished 52.7% of his draws in the offensive zone despite starting only 50.7% of them int here. The only thing lacking was production on the powerplay. For about a month, he was the only puck mover on the team and that was when the powerplay was struggling the most. Thought he would have more than one goal and five assists on the year on the powerplay but his play at even strength and his excellent work in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill (.8 scoring chances allowed per 2 mins.) make up for that. He was also scoring at a 1.11 point per 60 minute pace, which is damn good for a defenseman.

Carlson also led the team in blocked shots and takeaways but he also led the team in giveaways, showing that he is still a rookie and has a bit to learn. I felt that he kind of hit a wall towards the end of the season which is expected when you have a 20-21 year old playing a full 82 game season like he did. He also struggled in the Rangers series a bit but I thought he was impressive against Tampa Bay for the most part.

Bottom line, Carlson outperformed my expectations this year by a longshot. Him playing in all 82 games alone surprised me enough but for a rookie to step up and play top pairing minutes nightly against tough competition is very impressive and I didn’t see that coming from him at all. His production on the powerplay may have been lacking and he may have peaked towards the end of the season but I’m going to give him an A- on the year because he had about as great of a season as anyone could have asked for.

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