Recap of Last Season: Captain America was brilliant in 2010-11, exceeding all expectations and rising to the Capitals' top defensive pair by midseason with fellow young gun Karl Alzner. Carlson played in all 82 games last year as well, one of only three Caps to do so; he tallied seven goals and 30 assists in those 82 games while also leading all Caps players in blocked shots. To accomplish all of this while turning 21 that same year is an extraordinary accomplishment; I think Carlson was DC's best all-around defender last year despite some obvious and costly regular season gaffes as well as a lackluster playoffs. For my full post-season analysis of Carlson's 2010-11, click here.
Expectations for this Season: Since Carlson has established himself as one of Washington's best defensemen, he's going to have to keep playing like one. He's going to eat ice time in all situations and he's going to do it with poise and skill. I think his offense will also increase now that he's a year older; his offensive talent is electric and it is only a matter of time before this shines through at the NHL level in my opinion. I expect a big year.
Playing Time: Defensive pairing A; power play unit A; penalty killing unit A. As I wrote above, Carlson is a versatile and gifted defenseman who should be a first-choice option for Bruce Boudreau in nearly any situation. He should see a ton of ice.
Projections: 80 GP, 11 G, 30 A, +24 rating, 23:55 ATOI.
The next and final season preview will feature captain Alex Ovechkin.