Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/07/20 at 05:04 PM ET
from Terrence Doyle and Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight,
It is not typical for an NHL defenseman — or any athlete, for that matter — to drastically improve at the age of 30. While defensemen tend to peak later and play at a level that more closely resembles their prime deeper into their 30s than other NHL skaters, the fourth decade of a hockey player’s life usually corresponds with the end of their playing days.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is proving that this season: The D.C. blueliner, who turns 30 on Jan. 10, is having one of the best offensive seasons for a defenseman in NHL history, particularly after adjusting for leaguewide scoring levels. He’s also having one of the most valuable D-man campaigns in NHL history if we account for the rest of his stats. Basically, by any metric, Carlson is making history. And even more amazingly, he’s doing so as a relatively old guy.
With 52 points (13 goals, 39 assists), Carlson currently leads the Washington Capitals in scoring — 12 points clear of left wing Alex Ovechkin, himself one of history’s greatest scorers. Carlson’s 1.21 points per game is tracking to be the first season above the 1.2 threshold by a defenseman in 25 years. At this pace, he would notch 99 points by season’s end, which would be the most by a D-man since Brian Leetch had 102 points in the 1991-92 season.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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