Washington Caps’ Defenseman John Carlson Is Building an MVP Season

Carlson has 45 points (12 goals, 33 assists) through 33 games

Washington Capitals’ Defenseman Deserves NHL MVP, Not the Norris Trophy
John Carlson of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring. (Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty)
NHLI via Getty Images

With 45 points (12 goals, 33 assists) in 33 games this season, John Carlson is the odds-on favorite to win the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s top defenseman. But if the 29-year-old Massachusetts native keeps playing the way he has so far, he should also be in the conversation for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player.

On pace to finish with 114 points, Carlson would be the first defenseman to reach 100 since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers had 102 in the 1991-92 season. Even if he doesn’t hit that mark, Carlson is almost certainly going to surpass the career-high 70 points (13 goals, 57 assists) he had last season.

But Carlson doesn’t just contribute on offense: he also leads one of the best penalty-killing units in the League (the Caps boast an above-average 83.5% penalty kill rate).

“The guys, you know, like to give him a hard time about it, and lots of things have gone his way,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “That being said, he’s earned it, he’s worked for it, he deserves it. It’s not just the offensive stuff. He’s blocking shots, playing rushes early. He’s doing it all, obviously.”

Larry Murphy, who currently holds Capitals’ single-season points record for defensemen with 81 (23 goals, 58 assists), is ready to lose his spot in Washington’s record books to Carlson.

“He’s looking at a 100-point season,” Murphy said. “That’s a big surprise. It’s a tremendous accomplishment. You never knew if we were ever going to see a defenseman again with 100 points and he’s obviously going to be the one.”

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