Carlson set career highs in goals (15) and assists (53) in 2017-18 as part of the Capitals’ first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years. He added five goals and 15 assists in the playoff run to Washington’s first championship. Carlson was the highest-scoring defenseman in the NHL during the regular season and playoffs.
The 28-year-old American has spent his entire career in Washington since joining the franchise as a first-round draft pick in 2008. He has been a consistent part of the Capitals’ lineup over the years, appearing in every game in six of his nine NHL seasons.
Carlson has 77 career goals and 256 assists in 608 games. He was an unrestricted free agent after completing a six-year, $23.8 million contract. Carlson’s new deal will put him second on the team in AAV behind captain Alex Ovechkin.
The return of Carlson is the first big move the team has made to retain the core of its Cup-winning squad.
Coach Barry Trotz resigned after he and the organization failed to agree to terms on a new contract. Trotz has since been named the head coach of the New York Islanders.
Washington also traded goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Colorado Avalanche. Grubauer began the playoffs as the team’s starting goalie before yielding to Braden Holtby. Orpik, 37, was an NHL-best plus-17 in the playoffs this season.
Trading Grubauer and Orpik helped free up the cap space for the Capitals to bring back Carlson, who was seen as the best defenseman available on the free agent market this summer.