John Carlson 2023-24 Washington Capitals Grade & Review

Such a solid performance from Caps defenseman John Carlson
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
John Carlson, Washington Capitals / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

John Carlson, what a rock for the Washington Capitals all year. 

Along with Dylan Strome as the only two ‘iron men’ on the team this season, Carlson played in all 82 regular season games. Carlson had the most time on ice of any NHL player this year and the highest average TOI per game. He was the player coaches counted on through defensive injuries, and racked up time at all strengths (5-on-5, penalty kill & power play). Getting near or upwards of 30 minutes of ice time towards the end of the season, it didn’t seem to matter what assignment Carlson got from the coaches. He just kept grinding away at it without really being fazed, even at age 34 in his 15th NHL season. 

Though not always the fastest, Carlson was definitely moving his legs this season. He skated upwards of 290 total miles this season, ranking in the top 2% of players’ skating distance. He even got up to 4.18 miles in a single game. I guess he had to be skating all over the ice in order to block 192 shots this year but also fire 176 shots himself. 

Of those 176 shots, Carlson only scored 10 total goals and got 42 assists this year. Even if the volume of Carlson’s goals is not as high as we expect, the goals he did score were incredibly timely. In other words, he scored when the Caps really needed to score in tie games, close games, or games where the momentum started slipping away. Think of this goal, for example, against the LA Kings that gave the Caps a 1-goal lead in the final minute of regulation, preventing an overtime situation. 

Another major accomplishment from Carlson this year was playing in his 1000th career game. His 1000th game was against the Bruins, in which he scored a game-tying goal to force overtime. This milestone was celebrated during a later home game against the Ottawa Senators, where he received several memorial gifts from players, the team and the league.

Final Grade

Lastly, Carlson served as a huge mentor for the young players this year. For as much as the young guys learned from Carlson and other veterans on the team this year, during Locker Breakdown Day, Carlson also noted how there’s “no one-way communication”, mentioning how he also wanted to learn from the more junior players.

Unsurprisingly, Carlson’s grade with the Caps this year is A+.