John Carlson was never going to be a Philadelphia Flyer. Now it's official.
The Washington Capitals on Sunday night re-signed Carlson to an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with an annual average value of $8 million.
Carlson was able to begin speaking with potential suitors beginning at 12 a.m. Sunday morning, and according to a report, teams had begun lining up to speak with him.
For starters, it takes the big fish in the defensemen aisle off the market. While the Flyers did not have a realistic chance at signing Carlson, it doesn't mean that the veteran defenseman's contract does not have an impact on the orange and black.
It also keeps Carlson in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps, who won their first Stanley Cup this season, now have most of their core signed through 2019-20. The only item left on their grocery list is a head coach, and it's the only vacancy left.
There was a point during the 2017-18 season the Flyers were leading the Metropolitan Division but ultimately finished in third place. The Capitals won the divisional crown for their third straight season, and they're easily the frontrunner for it again in 2018-19.
Had Carlson left, it would have left the Capitals a huge hole to fill this summer and one that doesn't have any replacement-level alternatives.
Carlson led all NHL defensemen in scoring during the regular season (68 points) and playoffs (20) in 2017-18. He had points in four of the Capitals' five Cup games against the Vegas. Add in that he's a righty shot, he was irreplaceable with the options the Capitals had.
Which brings us the options and the Flyers.
Carlson headlined an underwhelming free-agent class. We're not counting restricted free agents because no one signs them. The last offer sheet was Ryan O'Reilly in 2013, but Colorado matched. The last one accepted was the Oilers signing Dustin Penner in 2007.
After the NHL draft Saturday, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall reiterated his interest in adding a top-four D-man. He had previously called right-handed defensemen a "big fill."
Despite having about $21.7 million in cap space, Hextall said two weeks ago that "we have money to spend short term." That would have counted the Flyers out on Carlson.
So who's available that could interest the Flyers? Let's begin with the righties.
Mike Green, Red Wings: 32 years old, 33 points and a $6-million AAV in 2017-18.
Kevin Bieksa, Anaheim Ducks: 37 years old, 8 points, $4 million AAV in 2017-18.
Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning: 27 years old, 7 points, $1.95 million AAV in 2017-18.
Not exactly an exciting group but a couple of veterans who may tickle Hextall's fancy.
Potential left-handed defensemen:
Calvin De Haan, Islanders: 27 years old, 13 points, $3.3 million AAV in 2017-18.
Ian Cole, Blue Jackets: 29 years old, 20 points, $2.5 million AAV in 2017-18.
John Moore, Devils: 27 years old, 18 points, $1.95 million AAV in 2017-18.
We'll touch more on individual players as we inch closer to when free agency opens Sunday, but the pool isn't exactly deep.
The Provorov factor
On Sunday, the Flyers may sign Ivan Provorov to an extension as the 21-year-old is entering the final year of his entry-level contract. Earlier this month, we made the case as to why it makes sense for the Flyers to extend Provorov this summer (see story). That remains true.
In our case, we used Drew Doughty's eight-year, $56 million contract signed as a 21-year-old in 2011 as an example. With Carlson, we now have another comparable.
Now, this is Carlson's third NHL contract. Provorov's next will be his second. But that's semantics. Carlson's $8 million cap hit seems to be the going rate this summer.
Arizona is reportedly signing Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 26, to an eight-year extension upward of $8 million per, which can't be official until Sunday.
Hextall has often come out on the better side of the contract he's signed. Even the Dale Weise deal wasn't totally bad - the term was the issue. So it's possible we're inflating Provorov's next deal a bit, but the parameters are there.
The going rate for a No. 1 defenseman who can play 25 minutes a night is in between $7 million and $8 million. Provorov is already that for the Flyers.