We wrote yesterday about how most teams that win the Stanley Cup have an elite center, like Jonathan Toews.
Well, most teams that win the Cup also have an elite defenseman, like Duncan Keith, the 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
Can John Carlson be that guy for the Washington Capitals?
The 25-year-old is coming off his best season as a professional. In 82 games, he had 12 goals and 43 assists, his 55 points ranking fifth among NHL defensemen, behind only Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, P.K. Subban and Dennis Wideman.
And with the departure of Mike Green, the Caps will need Carlson more than ever to provide offense from the back end, while also continuing to improve in all the other areas of his game.
“I think with Carly, there’s been areas of his game that sort of would lag, and I think he’s done a really good job of focusing on those areas, so he can have that consistency,” coach Barry Trotz said in February, per the Washington Post. “He’s maturing as a player. He’s still a very young player who’s now entering the front end of the prime of his career. There’s lot of good things to see from him.”
Related: ‘It took him a few years, but Victor Hedman’s arrived’
The Boston Bruins have added some depth on defense, in the form of Matt Irwin.
Irwin, 27, signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Bruins on Friday, the club announced. He arrives in Boston having played 53 games for the Sharks last year, racking up an impressive eight goals — trailing only Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic among San Jose d-men — and 19 points, while averaging 17:01 TOI per night.
An undrafted free agent out of UMass Amherst, Irwin has spent his entire professional career with the Sharks organization. He had two very solid years to start his tenure — during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, he had 12 points in 38 games as a rookie; in ’13-14, he scored a career-high 20 points.
Last year, though, seemed to be something of a setback. Injuries and healthy scratches kept him from playing as big a role on the Sharks’ defense, and GM Doug Wilson allowed Irwin to walk in free agency.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns loves animals and has pet reptiles at home, in part because with his travel schedule a cat or dog isn’t as feasible. Speaking of cats though: “I’d have a tiger if my wife would let me, but she kiboshed that.” (Sportsnet)
It might seem weird for Sam Bennett to be participating in the Calgary Flames’ development camp after his strong showing in the 2015 playoffs, but he sees the benefit in it. (Calgary Sun)
Jack Eichel is naturally dominating the headlines at the Sabres’ development camp, but Buffalo has another big prospect there in fellow second overall pick Sam Reinhart. (Buffalo News)
James Duthie will have a role in Goon: Last of The Enforcers:
Retired defenseman Jay Leach is joining the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins as an assistant coach. (Penguins.nhl.com)
After Philadelphia selected three goaltenders in the 2015 draft, Anthony Stolarz realizes he has to elevate his game. (Philadelphia Inquirer)