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New York Islanders 2018 Top Three Free Agent Targets

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 26: John Carlson #74 of the Washington Capitals during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks on October, 26, 2017 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 26: John Carlson #74 of the Washington Capitals during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks on October, 26, 2017 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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TAMPA, FL – MAY 11: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammate John Carlson #74 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 11, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – MAY 11: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammate John Carlson #74 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 11, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

John Carlson | Washington Capitals

Production: 67 Points (15G, 52A), Last Contract: $3.966 million AAV

Carlson is the big name defensive free agent on the market. With his 67 points in 2017-18, he towers over the rest of the field. Mike Green is second behind Carlson with 33 points.

With 32 points (4G, 28A), Carlson has almost as much production on the power play as Mike Green, the second most productive defensive free agent has 5on5.

The Islanders are going to face some steep competition to try and attract the free agent. Any team with a need on the blue line, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, will be all over Carlson.

Which means if they hope to stand out, they’ll have to overpay. With some $28 million in cap space next season, without considering the possible $5 million cap increase, the Islanders might just have space.

Figure Tavares takes $11 million of that space and Carlson chews up $9 million of it. That’s another $8 million in space to sign RFAs Ryan Pulock, Brock Nelson, and some of the minor role players like Alan Quine.

But that means they’ll have to hope Linus Soderstrom can be impressive enough to start. Because the New York Islanders won’t have room to do much else. Which might be a problem, unless you believe that Soderstrom can be an average or even above average starter in the NHL.

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