The Washington Capitals are focused on playing the best of their ability now. Five points back from the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals as a team have been good not great. But the season is early, and as we progress through the season the team will work better together and come out near the top of the Conference as they so often do.

Because of the focus on this season, looking towards the end of the season is not on the table. That includes, apparently, looking to extend contracts. As Elliotte Friedman of SportsNet reported Tuesday, the Capitals have had no talks with pending free agent defensemen John Carlson on a contract extension.

Carlson has been with the Capitals since being drafted by them 27th overall in 2008. He played his first NHL game at 20 during the 2009/10 season, and played his first full season the next year. Carlson steadily became one of the team’s top defensemen, and has averaged 23 per game every season since 2013, except last season.

Currently Carlson has 2 goals and 16 assists in 25 games, on pace for his best season if he were to stay at this rate. Points wise this season will turn out as one of his better. He generally hits the upper 30’s, but in 2014/15 he managed 55 points for a career best. If he can stay anywhere on track of his current pace, and avoid injury, he will hit at least 45 points by season’s end.

The bad news is Carlson is in danger of walking out of Washington. His current contract was signed in 2012 at 6 years, $3.67 million annually and expires this offseason. Considering the contracts his fellow Capitals defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen were able to secure, John Carlson should be looking north of $6 million per year.

Assuming Carlson gets somewhere in the range of $6-6.5 million per year on his next contract, the Capitals will not be able to keep him unless they can manage some serious cap management. Right now they have $2 million in cap space, but they have no big contracts coming off the books next season. In addition they need to resign Tom Wilson, Madison Bowey, and Philipp Grubauer who will all get at least a minor raise. If they manage to fit Carlson into the cap, the forward depth will take a significant hit for next season.