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John Carlson makes team history in blowout win

John Carlson makes team history in blowout win

The first two games of the Eastern Conference Final have been anything but quiet for the Capitals, but John Carlson very quietly made team history in Sunday's Game 2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

With two assists on the night, Carlson reached 14 total points for this postseason setting a franchise record for most points in a single postseason by a Capitals defenseman. The previous record of 12 was set by Kevin Hatcher in 1988.

Carlson now sits second among all defensemen in the playoffs, just one point shy of Dustin Byfuglien's 15.

With only three goals, it can be easy to forget about Carlson when players like Lars Eller and Tom Wilson are playing so well, but Carlson currently sits third on the team in points behind only Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

And this is all very good timing.

Carlson, 28, is in the final year of a contract that carries a cap hit of just under $4 million. He was already due a significant raise after a career-high 68 points to lead all defensemen in the regular season. With an impressive postseason to match, his price tag continues to climb.

So what will it take to re-sign him?

Kevin Shattenkirk signed a four-year contract with cap hit of $6.65 million per year on the heels of a 13-goal, 56-point season. For you non-math experts out there, 56 points is fewer than Carlson's 68. Shattenkirk also walked away from longer-term deals to play with his hometown Rangers.

Brent Burns and Victor Hedman both signed new contracts in 2016. Burns' deal was for eight years, $64 million ($8 million cap hit) and Hedman signed for eight years, $63 million ($7.875 million cap hit).

Those are two of the biggest name defensemen in the NHL. Carlson, however, scored more points than either of them this season and defensively, he played a huge role for Washington when Matt Niskanen went down with an injury. Carlson played nearly 30 minutes a night with Niskanen out to keep the Caps' defense from collapsing.

So even if you do not see Carlson as being on par with players like Burns or  Hedman, another team else might. Carlson will be one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason if he makes it that far without re-signing with the Caps and that certainly won't come cheap. A cap hit of $6.5 million seems like an absolute minimum, but this postseason has likely raised that number to the $7-$7.5 million range.

But for now, it doesn't matter. A new contract is a problem for the offseason and for once the Caps don't have to think about that yet because there's still plenty of hockey left to play.

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Capitals draft pick admits he is...a Flyers fan

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Capitals draft pick admits he is...a Flyers fan

Say it ain't so.

Mitchell Gibson is the first goalie the Capitals have drafted since Ilya Samsonov in 2015, but they may be thinking twice about their selection after a recent shocking interview.

Gibson spoke with a local Philadelphia CBS station and revealed that both he and his family...are Flyers fans.

Insert dramatic music.

"I think my family will always be Flyers fans in their hearts and I guess I will be a little bit," Gibson admitted, hopefully with guilt in his voice.

Gibson was selected by the Caps in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, but clearly the scouts did not do their homework. It's as if Gibson grew up a hockey fan in a place like Phoenixville, Pa. (about an hour outside of Philadelphia) without anticipating the future that he may one day be drafted by a rival team like Washington.

Shame, shame.

The young netminder tried to make up for his horrifying admission later in the interview.

"The Capitals are definitely treating me well right now so I would like to be their goalie," he said.

A likely story.

Gibson is only 19 and set to begin his first collegiate season at Harvard in 2018 so at least there is still time for Gibson to overcome his shameful past. And hey, it could always be worse. At least he's not a Penguins fan.

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Key Caps questions: How will Samsonov look in his first season in North America?

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Scout Pruski

Key Caps questions: How will Samsonov look in his first season in North America?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: How will Ilya Samsonov play in his first season in North America?

What else is there to say about Samsonov's time in the KHL? In the limited action he saw playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, he looked every bit the starting goalie the Caps hoped he would one day be when they drafted him in the first round of the 2015 draft. Now, finally, he is ready to start his North America career.

What makes the transition from Europe to North America difficult?

First, Samsonov is adjusting to a new country and a new language. Second, the workload in North America is much larger, even in practice.

"He probably saw more shots today than he saw in a month of practice in Russia and this was nothing," director of player development Steve Richmond said during development camp. "For me, that's the biggest thing for him is to learn how to practice in North America."

And then there's the rink size. The game is faster for goalies in North America because of the smaller rink. Scoring chances develop much more quickly and Samsonov will also be dealing with different angles. It also means dealing with a lot more traffic in front of the net. He is going to have to learn more how to track the puck through a screen and to react much more quickly.

I tried to watch Samsonov closely in development camp. His size definitely stood out. He takes up a lot of the net, but is still very athletic and very quick in and out of the butterfly. As big as he is, however, he seems to play very low to compensate for his size which leaves him vulnerable up high at times. He would make a handful of very good saves, then let in a soft one glove side or in the corners because he was playing too low.

Those areas of his game can be improved on with practice so long as you have the skill and Samsonov certainly has that.

Samsonov has been elite at every level he has played and there is no reason to think that won't continue in the AHL. Having said that, there is just too much he needs to adjust to expect him to be ready for the NHL at this point. He needs as much playing time as possible at the AHL level before he is ready. As long as that's where he spends the season, I expect him to put up similar numbers to the 2.31 GAA, .926 save percentage he managed last season in the KHL.

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