With Brooks Orpik now retired, the Washington Capitals “A” patch is now open. John Carlson should be the next to wear it.
Carlson was drafted in the first round at 27th overall in 2008 and was the newest face of a defensive renaissance, a homegrown talent.
Carlson played for the London Knights before joining the Hershey Bears in the 2009 run to the Calder Cup.
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He also had glory on the international stage as an alternate captain for Team USA during the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship. Carlson won gold in 2010 with an overtime goal in a 6-5 Team USA win over Team Canada.
Carlson came on board to the Capitals the next season and was the biggest face in a next gen defensive corps that already had household names with Mike Green and Karl Alzner roaming the dressing room. Alzner won that room over right from that clutch game-tying goal in Washington’s 2010 first round series against Montreal.
Carlson was the biggest face among the defense and got some help in the summer of 2014 with the arrival of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Orpik carried the assistant captain role until announcing his retirement from the NHL earlier this summer. There would be no better defender other than Carlson more deserving of the “A”.
Carlson will be the oldest and most experienced defenseman in the locker room. He is currently 30 and is coming off two of the best seasons of his NHL career. The Capitals hope there’s even more ceiling for him to reach.
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Carlson averaged the most ice time of his career in 2018-19 with 25:04. He finished with 70 points with 13 goals and a career-high 57 assists. He finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting.
With Orpik gone, Carlson can help carry the torch and be even more of a veteran leader. The Capitals defense is a big question mark heading into the season and if Carlson is at his healthiest, the unit should be fine. Carlson is the most experienced defensemen in the room and he’ll be leaned on more to lead. It’s why he’s a no brainer for the “A” patch.
Carlson and Michal Kempny should be a solid shutdown defensive pair once the latter returns from an injury. Dmitry Orlov, the other veteran, has to adjust to life without Matt Niskanen. Plus how will new guys Nick Jensen and Radko Gudas fare from a full season? Oh and let’s not forget the competition between Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler.