It's not every year when a top-pair defenseman feels pressure to make up for the loss of a third-pair player, but then again, Mike Green was not your normal third-pair defenseman.
Gone is the two-time, Norris Trophy finalist and with him goes his offensive production. Now the defense as a group will have to make up for that loss.
"I think everybody on the defense [has] to play better," John Carlson said. "We have to make ourselves better game in and game out and certainly that doesn't change for me whether [Green] left or he stayed."
With Green gone, the onus of being the team's top offensive-defenseman falls primarily on Carlson. While Carlson actually recorded more points last season than Green (12 goals and 43 assists compared to 10 goals and 35 assists), the real challenge will be replacing Green's ability to feed Alex Ovechkin on the team's potent power play.
"I've played power play the past two years," Carlson said. "Maybe not from Game 1 to Game 82, but certainly a decent amount throughout.
"I'm looking forward to it."
With 16 assists on the power play, nearly half of Green's assists last season came on the man advantage. He finished second on the team in power play assists behind only Nicklas Bacstrom. Green's ability to feed Ovechkin helped make the Caps' power play the best in the NHL in 2014-15 and in the top two each of the past three seasons.
Replacing that kind of production is no easy task even if Carlson has established himself as an offensive threat already. Then again, Carlson is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win.
"I don't care if I don't score a goal all year," Carlson said. "If we win, I'll be the happiest guy in the world."