Free Agent Profile: John Carlson

Writer’s Note: The content in this article is the sole opinion of its writer, and does not represent the opinions of the entire Devils Army Blog admin and writing staff.

Photo by Geoff Burke: USA TODAY Sports

Authors Twitter: @jvillani08

A large theme of the New Jersey Devils 2017-18 season was their struggles on defense. That is why it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Ray Shero makes the defensive unit the focal point of the offseason. If he so chooses to mend the defensive core through free-agency, he won’t have many options. With limited choices, many may look at a pending unrestricted free agent and New Jersey-native John Carlson as the most enticing defenseman. He is coming off a career-year and will look to cash in, which may pose a tempting risk to the Devils.

For the season, the 28-year-old, right-handed defenseman racked up 63 points while playing all 82 games. Carlson continued to earn himself more money during the Capitals Stanley Cup run. During the playoffs, he led all defenseman in points with 20 while nearly averaging 26:00 of ice time per game. With these numbers in mind and the fact the defensive free-agent pool is so shallow, I firmly expect Carlson will receive a 5-7-year contract paying him between $7-8 million annually.

However, if you take a deeper dive into Carlson’s advanced statistics, you may start to wonder if he’s worth all the money he is about to receive. He has a career 49.5 Corsi (CF%), which is below the league average. He also owns a career -1.7 relative Corsi (Rel CF%), which means whenever Carlson is on the ice, his team is being out-played in terms of shot attempts by a slight margin. Many may argue these numbers are on the lower end due to the fact Carlson is on the ice against the opponent’s best forwards. However, if you look at the chart I organized below — which compares defenseman who are currently on similar contracts that Carlson is expected to sign — his numbers are toward the bottom.


Name Salary (in dollars) CF% CF% Rel
Victor Hedman 7,875,000 52.3 2.4
Dustin Byfuglien 7,600,000 53.1 1.8
Ryan Suter 7,538,462 50.5 2.0
John Carlson 7,500,000 (estimated) 49.5 -1.7
Aaron Ekblad 7,500,000 51.5 2.3
Kris Letang 7,250,000 53.8 3.6
Drew Doughty 7,000,000 54.9 1.9
Marc-Edouard Vlasic 7,000,000 52.1 -0.4

In conclusion, I believe the Devils should stay away from Carlson. This is soley based on the fact that he is about to get more money than he is worth. Ray Shero stated that the Devils have to be careful in free agency with Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier due for new contracts soon. If Carlson would settle for something in the 5-6 million range I’d be all for the New Jersey native to return home. However, that is just unrealistic.


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