Caps ink Carlson: six years, $23.8 million

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The plight of three unsigned RFA defensemen — Michael Del Zotto, P.K. Subban and John Carlson — has been one of the offseason’s most compelling storylines.

Today, Carlson’s story came to an end.

The Capitals announced they’ve inked the 22-year-old blueliner to a six-year, $23.8 million deal. The contract has an average annual cap hit of $3.97 million, a pretty significant pay raise from the $845,833 Carlson made on his entry-level contract.

“John is a talented young defenseman who has played very well for the Capitals and still has room to grow,” Washington GM George McPhee told the team website. “He wanted to make a long term commitment to the team and we are delighted that this young man who is an important part of our future will be a member of the club for many years to come.”

In his first two full seasons at the NHL level, Carlson scored 37 and 32 points while playing all 164 regular season games.

He was a key contributor to Washington’s surprising playoff run of a year ago, leading all defensemen in scoring (five points) while averaging over 24 minutes a night.

Two interesting notes on this deal:

1) The Caps will a lot of contracts on blueline for 2012-13 (yeah yeah, if there’s a season). Carlson, Mike Green, Roman Hamrlik, Tom Poti, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine and Karl Alzner are on the books for $21.6 million while Dmitry Orlov ($900,000) and Jack Hillen ($650,000) are also in the mix.

2) What happens with Del Zotto and Subban? It always felt like a race between those two and Carlson to see which one would dictate the market, especially considering how comparable the three are:

2011-12

Subban (23 years old): 81 games played, 7G-29A-36PTS, 24:18 average TOI

Carlson (22): 82 games played, 9G-23A-32PTS, 21:52 average TOI

Del Zotto (22): 77 games played, 10G-31A-41PTS, 22:26 average TOI

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

If there’s something maybe a little off-kilter about you, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson may provide an additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way.

Milestones: Matthews, Nylander break Leafs rookie records; Chara hits 600

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Auston Matthews likely ranks as the top reason that many Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get the same feelings they had in better times, so it only makes sense that he broke a beloved Buds’ record on Tuesday.

With his 35th goal of a potential Calder season – but a brilliant debut either way – Matthews passed Wendel Clark for the Maple Leafs’ rookie record for goals in a season.

That goal was also meaningful for William Nylander, as he extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. This team, fueled by young players, just keeps shattering first-year marks:

Switching gears, let’s go from new to (relatively) old: Zdeno Chara collected the 600th point of his outstanding career with an assist:

Yes, it’s true that most people think of his imposing size and all-world defensive instincts in praising Chara, but he’s been a respectable point producer, too.

U.S. women end boycott, will represent USA Hockey at worlds

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The U.S. women’s national team voted in favor of accepting USA Hockey’s deal, so they’ll participate in the world championship tournament. USA Hockey recently made the news official with this press release.

The press release confirmed a report that the contract will last four years, while financial terms were kept confidential. (Team members had been seeking a living wage to represent USA Hockey.)

“Our sport is the big winner today,” Team captain Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”

The U.S. women’s national team is scheduled to face Canada on Friday.

Here’s a screen cap of the press release for your convenience:

Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.