Caps GM Brian MacLellan said he anticipates opening contract talks with pending free agent John Carlson in the coming days.

MacLellan also said on Wednesday that he’s hopeful of working out an extension with the 28-year-old.

Carlson led all defenseman during the regular season in points with 68 (15 goals and 53 assists) and again in the playoffs with 20 (five goals and 15 assists). His average ice time in the regular season (24:47) was top on the Caps and it also marked a career-high.

“I thought he had an outstanding year, played great in the playoffs,” MacLellan said. “I’d really like to have him back on the team.”

MacLellan has a number of free agents to re-sign this summer, though Carlson is at the top of that list. Carlson earned $4 million this season and could stand to earn double that in his next deal.

Helping the Caps is the fact that the salary cap ceiling is expected to rise from $75 million this season to between $78 - $82 million next season. But will it be enough?

All depends.

“We’re going to be limited to a certain extent to what we can offer,” MacLellan said. “But hopefully we can find a spot that satisfies both parties.”

Carlson, who is among the few players who makes Washington his year-round home, said he wants to stay with the Caps but understands that business is business.

“I love it here and all that,” he said. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”


Carlson added: “This has been my home. I've lived here every summer since I've been here. This is my home base and obviously the guys that I've been around, the experiences we've had. I love the area and this is all I know.”