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Carlson signs eight-year contract with Capitals

Could have been UFA on July 1, gets $64 million to stay in Washington

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

John Carlson signed an eight-year, $64 million contract ($8 million average annual value) with the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

The 28-year-old defenseman, who could have been an unrestricted free agent July 1, led NHL defensemen in 2017-18 with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists), 13 more than his previous NHL career high, set in 2014-15.

"John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL," general manager Brian MacLellan said. "Defensemen like John are a rare commodity in our league and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime. As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team's success on the special teams. We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement and for him to continue his great career as a Washington Capital."

Carlson had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 24 games in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the most among defensemen, to help the Capitals win the Cup for the first time in their 43-season history.

Video: Looking at John Carlson's new contract with Capitals

Selected by Washington in the first round (No. 27) of the 2008 NHL Draft, Carlson has 333 points (77 goals, 256 assists) in nine seasons with the Capitals.

Although Carlson was born in Natick, Massachusetts, and grew up in Colonia, New Jersey, he has said he considers the Washington area his home. He lives there during the offseason and plans to have his day with the Stanley Cup there this summer.

"I've lived here every summer since I've been here," Carlson said June 13. "This is my home base and, obviously, the guys that I've been around, the experiences we've had, I love the area and this is all I know."

But Carlson acknowledged at the time that more would go into his decision than his desire to stay with the Capitals. If he had reached the UFA market, he would have been one of the most coveted players.

The free agent interview period began Sunday, and Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, said late in the morning that he had started fielding phone calls from other teams while continuing to negotiate with the Capitals.

Carlson's new contract more than doubles the $3.96 million AAV on his expiring six-year, $23.8 million contract, which he signed in 2012. To create NHL salary cap space to re-sign Carlson, Washington traded goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday for the No. 47 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Orpik, 37, has one season remaining on his five-year contract with a $5.5 million salary cap charge. According to multiple reports, the Avalanche placed Orpik on unconditional waivers Saturday for the purpose of buying out the remainder of his contract.

Grubauer, 26, could have become a restricted free agent July 1 but signed a three-year contract with the Avalanche on Saturday.

"Both [Orpik] and [Grubauer] are really good people, well-liked by their teammates," MacLellan said Friday. "You don't like trading away good people, but it's what we had to do to move forward with the team."

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