Yesterday, Andrew Gharib wrote a fan blog on Sportsnet about the most underrated players in the NHL. One of the players listed was Erik Karlsson and Gharib wrote:
Erik Karlsson, Senators - His plus/minus isn't anything to write home about, but he is the engine that runs the Sens on the backend. A prolific puck handler and skater, Karlsson is almost a point per game player (1 goal, 16 assists in 19 games), and averages over 25 minutes a game. We'll soon be hearing his name in Norris trophy talks.
Karlsson is very unlikely to win the Norris Trophy this season. But can he in the future? Mike Green's 76 points in 75 games and 73 points in 68 games helped make him a finalist twice for the trophy. Green never won it, but he was in the running. Erik Karlsson is a long way from those kinds of offensive numbers, though early in the season he is on pace for 74 points. Green also scored 19 and 31 goals in those two seasons, while Karlsson has just the one. Karlsson is on pace for 271 shots though, more than Green ever got, and you have to think the goals will start going in for him at some point.
The biggest knock against Karlsson is his defensive play. He is getting better in his own zone, and I would argue he is at least average defensively. Looking at the quality of competition, Karlsson is also playing against the opposition's better players, while Green was near the bottom. Green also had Alexander Ovechkin on his team to help his offensive numbers.
It will be tough for Karlsson to overcome the image of a strictly offensive defenceman and the fact that he plays on a team with a relatively small fan-base, but he is slowly becoming an all-round player who is even useful on the penalty kill.
Disclaimer: Erik Karlsson is my favourite player.
- Game recap. (Silver Seven, Ottawa Sun, Senators Extra, Copper and Blue)
- Stats from NHL.com [Boxscore] [Game summary] [Face-offs] [Play by play] [Ice time]
- Advanced stats from TimeOnIce.com. [Corsi] [Head-to-head] [Zone starts]
- Scoring chances from last night. (mc79hockey)
- Was the Nikita Filatov situation just a misunderstanding? Dmitry Chesnokov doesn't think Filatov wants to return to Russia but was beginning to feel this was becoming like Columbus all over again. (Sensay)
- The Binghamton Senators will play in Montréal tonight and hope the change of scenery will help them end an eight-game losing streak. (Press & Sun-Bulletin)
- Jason Spezza feels a bit older when told he was the idol of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. (Ottawa Sun)
- Bruce Garrioch and Denis Potvin pick their all-star teams. Alfie is the captain of Team Garrioch. (Ottawa Sun)
- Sens assistant coach Mark Reeds talks about his history with Paul MacLean. (Ottawa Senators)
- UPDATE: Bryan Murray is not looking to trade any of the club's young players, but might add a player to help the team if the cost is right. (Sportsnet)