Caps' Road To Stanley Cup Gets More Difficult
By Stephen London
During the course of the weekend, the hockey world and the Nashville Predators had to absorb the fact that the Philadelphia Flyers signed All-Star defenseman Shea Weber to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet. Considering Weber was a restricted free agent, the Predators can match the offer or get supplemental draft picks. Numerous outlets report that the Predators plan to match the Flyers' offer sheet, with the intent to trade the Canadian defenseman.
Not only can the Eastern Conference teams expect to face Weber one way or another, they can also prepare to play against Rick Nash. Yesterday, the saga of Nash wanting to be traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets ended with a trade to the New York Rangers. The Blue Jackets got a first-round pick, forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, and defenseman Tim Erixon.
The Rangers have had one of the best goaltenders in the league in Henrik Lundqvist for years, but their playoff runs have ended because of their lack of offensive firepower. Acquiring Nash is exactly what the Rangers needed -- a forward who is known for creating a lot of scoring opportunities.
After the Nash and Weber moves, one thing is clear: It just became a lot harder to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals.
As the Eastern Conference progressively gets more competitive, the Capitals have yet to sign young gun defenseman John Carlson. The Caps either consider Mike Green a more integral part of the team, or Carlson is asking for too much money. Green, despite being injured most of the last two regular seasons, was signed to a three-year, $18.25 million contract eight days ago.
Carlson, on the other hand, has played in every game the last two seasons, while having the highest plus/minus of any Capitals defenseman last season (+21). Carlson also led the Caps defensemen in points during the playoffs this past season with five (two goals, three assists). Carlson has been a key part of the Caps defensive unit, especially when he is on the same defensive unit as Karl Alzner.
For whatever reason, the Capitals and Carlson have still not come to an agreement despite Carlson's restricted-free agent tag. Needless to say, Carlson will be needed in Washington this coming season, especially because of the departure of Dennis Wideman. Perhaps the Capitals management is waiting for the new collective bargaining agreement to be signed in order to pay less for Carlson. But this tactic could be seen in poor light by Carlson's camp, making it even harder to keep him in a Caps sweater the next time he's a free agent.
Posted July 24, 2012