John Carlson scored career-high’s in goals (15), assists (53) and points (68) last season. Some great timing a pending unrestricted free agent, already due to earn some significant term and dollars in his next extension.

Re-signing the defenseman at the dollars he was believed to command was going to be difficult for the defending champs. Just prior to Friday though, the Capitals made a move that seems to signal they’ll make every effort to re-up their top player on the back-end.

Just prior to the start of the draft, the Capitals traded the much-coveted pending restricted free agent, Philipp Grubauer along with defenseman, Brooks Orpik and his $5.5 million salary to the Avalanche in exchange for a second round pick.

The deal offers cap relief for Washington, who also has Devante Smith-Pelly and Tom Wilson as restricted free agents and due to earn contracts with medium raises.

Carlson, 28, just closed out a six-year, $23.8 million contract, signed in 2012, according to Cap Friendly. His next contract could see him make up to $8.5 million per season on as many as eight years.

Grubauer, 26, enjoyed a career season with Washington, going 15-10-3 and entered the playoffs as the Caps starter before being replaced by Braden Holtby after allowing eight goals in back-to-back home games of the first round versus the Blue Jackets. Washington went on to win the series in six games.

Orpik, 37, is entering his final season under contract. He netted five points in 24 playoff games en route to earning his second Cup championship. According to reports, the Avs might not be a permanent home for him.

As July 1 approaches, this probably won’t be the only deal with free agency implications.

About The Author

Mad about being born into a Mets household during the Yankees dynasty, Neal McHale turned to something different after the 2000 World Series. He got NHL 2001 as a gift and it helped pioneer a hockey love affair. His first sportswriting gig was covering the historically-gritty Big East Conference. Since 2015, he's been with Inside Hockey covering the NHL.

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