Carlson out until ‘near the end of March,’ Caps GM says

Capitals defenseman John Carlson in action during a game against the Stars

The Capitals will be without John Carlson for at least another few weeks as he continues to progress from the frightening head injury he sustained when he took a puck to the side of his face during a game against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 23.

“He’s got a little bit left,” GM Brian MacLellan told reporters in a Zoom press conference following the trade deadline Friday. “He’s got a set timeframe here, so near the end of March, in that timeframe, is when he can get serious about seeing if he can come back.”

Carlson, 33, appeared in 30 of the Capitals’ first 36 games, recording eight goals and 13 assists as Washington jumped out to a 19-13-4 record. The Capitals have struggled in his absence with a mark of 11-14-2 since his injury.

“It’s your No. 1 D that plays 22-23 minutes a night out of our lineup since the end of December,” MacLellan said. “I thought we had a really good December where we outplayed teams and played really well, had a real good record, and then John went down and that’s when I think our inconsistency started. It’s hard to replace a guy like him.

“We bumped guys up into the lineup, increased their minutes, which most of them handled well, but it’s still not the same as having John in there playing both power play and penalty killing. So, I do think it had a big effect on the results from the end of December on, contributed to what I would call inconsistencies.”


Washington made several changes to its blue line in the eight days leading up to the deadline. MacLellan orchestrated four separate deals that resulted in defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Erik Gustafsson departing the organization with Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin coming in. The team also signed veteran defenseman Nick Jensen to a three-year extension and called up both prospect Vincent Iorio and 26-year-old Gabriel Carlsson from the AHL.

After entering the year with Carlson as the only defenseman signed past 2022-23, the Capitals now have three including Jensen and Sandin while both Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev are set to be restricted free agents this offseason.

The Capitals will get to take a closer look at some of those players down the stretch and they hope Carlson can join them before the season comes to a close.