The Toronto Maple Leafs and Acquiring John Carlson

ANNAPOLIS, MD - MARCH 03: John Carlson
ANNAPOLIS, MD - MARCH 03: John Carlson /

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs pursue John Carlson?

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is currently celebrating his Stanley Cup victory in the city of Washington D.C., a place that may not be his home for much longer. The right-handed defenseman was a first round pick by the Capitals in 2008 and has remained with the franchise ever since. He is the best player available at what is a very weak position for the Toronto Maple Leafs – right shooting defenseman.

This past season Carlson had a career high of 68 points, along with 20 points in the playoffs. Carlson also averaged a little over 25 minutes per game during the playoffs and a little over 24 minutes per game during the regular season.

As Carlson becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, multiple teams will have their eye on this key player. One team that is particularly focused on strengthening their blueline is the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Carlson could be the player they need to achieve that goal. Let’s take a look at some factors that impact Carlson’s possible move up north.

Why the Leafs Should Try and get Carlson

  • As mentioned, Carlson is coming off of a career high year, as well as an excellent playoff run. In his nine seasons with the Capitals he has grown tremendously and is now a mature and reliable defenseman on an upward performance trajectory.
  • He’s a great offensive defenseman. Morgan Reilly is currently one of Toronto’s top defensemen. Reilly had 52 regular season points along with five points in his seven postseason games. Carlson can add to this offensive production by Toronto’s blueline. Additionally, his high minutes per game can help alleviate some of the Leafs’ defensive struggles.
  • He’s a big defenseman who takes up room on the ice. Standing at 6’3, Carlson brings a physical presence to the back end of the ice. This is an underrated aspect that can become relevant after some defensive offseason changes, such as the possible moving of Ron Hainsey.
  • He’s a right-hand shot. This point is the most critical and one of the most overlooked reasons why the Leafs should target him come July. The current top defensemen for the Leafs are mostly lefties, making Carlson a valuable asset that can change the dynamic of their defense, in both 5v5 as well as odd-man situations.

Why the Leafs Probably Won’t

  • Signing a high-demand, Stanley Cup winning defenseman comes with a price, and that price is a cap hit upwards of $8 million. The Leafs technically have the ability to put in a bid for the defenseman, but its monetary value is questionable.
  • The biggest con in the case of John Carlson is that he does not want to leave the Capitals and that the Capitals do not want him to leave. As a cap increase nears, the Capitals will do everything in their power to sign Carlson and by the looks of it, Carlson will come to a deal with his current team.
  • The Leafs – with Rielly, Gardiner, Zaitsev, Liljegren and Dermott – have a lot of puck moving defensemen and may be looking for a different skill set.

Although Carlson can be a great addition to the Leafs roster, the Leafs should not bank on him coming to town.  Compared to other teams vying for the defenseman, the Leafs are at the top of the pack. The only issue is that the Capitals organization is putting in effort to keep Carlson in D.C. and Carlson seems eager to stay.

Next: Leafs Forward Grades

As a life-long Capital the chance of him making the move if Washington presents a viable offer is slim, even in the case that the Toronto Maple Leafs present a slightly better deal.

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