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.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS