Capitals defenseman John Carlson named Alternate Captain
The Washington Capitals have announced that 10-year-verteran defenseman John Carlson will become the team’s second alternate captain. The Capitals needed to fill their open role after alternate captain defenseman Brooks Orpik retired following Washington’s season last year.
Carlson will join an elite Capitals pairing to form a trio of leaders for Washington’s 2019-20 season. Captain Alex Ovechkin and fellow alternate captain Nicklas Backstrom welcomed their new counterpart at Tuesday’s practice, just one day before Washington is featured in the NHL debut game against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion, St. Louis Blues.
“It means a lot to me. It is something that whether I got it or ever did get it, you know, it wouldn’t really change necessarily how I would change going about things, but I think I’ve been around some really good leaders over my years here and looking forward to stepping up,” Carlson said. “It is an honor.”
Carlson is coming off a career-high 25:04 average ice time in 2018-19, along with 13 goals and 57 assists. This marked the fourth season of Carlson’s career where he had double-digit goals and the second consecutive season of more than 50 assists.
Carlson’s team history
“I think he has been here many years and worked hard and he deserves it,” Backstrom said. “I think he (has) developed into a leader (over) the years so I think it’s a perfect fit. For him back there, he can control all the d-men back there and a lot of d-men is probably looking up to him too so that’s a good thing. That is going to be his area to control.”
The alternate captain honor comes as well after Carlson has clearly made himself a dominant factor in the back six and has emerged as the Capitals’ No. 1 defenseman. He has also played on the top line for Washington for the past few seasons.
Caps extend Carlson in 2018
Additionally, the Capitals made it known just how important he is to the team as they extended his contract in the same month after winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. Entering his eleventh season, Carlson is playing in his second year of his eight-year, $64 million dollar contract.
“He’s a guy who has put his time in, and kind of his body of work in the last five, six years that I’ve been here in terms of his growth as a player and as a leader and as a person, (that’s what) led to this decision,” Washington’s head coach Todd Reirden said.
Carlson’s new role
Carlson lead all NHL defenseman in points last season (68) and he was two goals short of the three-way player tie for most defenseman goals in the league (17). While Carlson said what he does on the ice won’t change because of the alternate captain honor, he will now be looked to lead all defenseman young and old in a new light. This looks to begin with 22-year-old Jonas Siegenthaler who is the most likely to skate on the top line with Carlson as the season begins Wednesday. Furthermore, 19-year-old Martin Fehervary, the Capitals’ second round pick last year is expected to be in Washington’s lineup also after the team waived defenseman Christian Djoos on Monday.
Reirdan confirmed that Carlson was in the running with forwards T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson. But, Oshie remains more as the emotional leader and Wilson remains more of the physical leader, he said, while Carlson exemplifies both.
“I just think it’s a progression thing,” Carlson said. “Everyone has aspirations to be a captain or an assistant captain. Lucky for us there are so many that could be, but you know, yeah I’m excited about it though.”
Kayla Morton is a Sports Contributor for The Maryland Sports Blog. She covers the Washington Capitals, Baltimore Ravens and special events.