John Carlson, the top pending free-agent defenseman set to hit the open market on July 1, wants to stay in Washington, but admitted it's easier said than done.

"I love it here," he told reporters at the team's locker clean-out Wednesday, according to NBC Sports' Tarik El-Bashir. "I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that."

Related: How the Caps can keep Carlson and go for 2 in a row

Carlson led all NHL blue-liners with 68 points during the 2017-18 season, and added 20 more in 24 postseason games.

As a 28-year-old right-handed shooting defenseman, Carlson is bound for a nice payday. However, Washington would really have to circumvent the salary cap in order to match the offers Carlson would receive on the open market.

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