Silver Nuggets: Erik Karlsson for Hart... but not the Norris?

Karlsson has been Ottawa's most valuable player, but John Klingberg could very well have been the league's best defencemen so far.

Yesterday I had a short but fascinating Twitter interaction with notable hockey blogger Carolyn Wilke. First, she Tweeted this out:

When someone pointed out that as a Stars fan, she was doing the whole homer thing wrong, she added this:

(You can read her full story on the subject here.)

This may seem counter-intuitive, and might even be impossible. The last time a player won the Hart Trophy (league MVP) without winning another major award (Art Ross - most points, Rocket Richard - most goals, or Vezina - best goalie) was 2000-01 when Joe Sakic won the Hart Trophy, but Jaromir Jagr beat him by three points and Pavel Bure beat him by five goals. That year, Sakic still won the Lady Byng, most gentlemanly player, but I don't consider that a major award. Going back even further, in 1994-95, Eric Lindros won the Hart and tied Jagr in points, but Jagr won the Art Ross because he had more goals. It seems like 1993-94 is the most recent time a player won MVP without winning another award, when Sergei Fedorov took home the Hart, but Wayne Gretzky won the Art Ross, and Pavel Bure would've won the Rocket Richard if it existed back then.

Only two defencemen have won the Hart Trophy since the Norris Trophy came into existence: Chris Pronger (1999-00), and Bobby Orr (1969-70, 1970-71, 1971-72). Both won the Norris Trophy when they won the Hart Trophy. So it may be highly unlikely to win the Hart without winning another award, and impossible if you're a defenceman.

That being said, the stats give some credence to the idea of Erik Karlsson for Hart but John Klingberg for Norris. First, Klingberg currently has 23 points compared to Karlsson's 22, though Dallas have also played one more game than Ottawa. Klingberg only has 10 PIMs compared to Karlsson's 18, which is important as a non-fighting defenceman. Klingberg also has one more GWG than Karlsson.

Looking at it in terms of shot attempts, Klingberg currently has 54.0% when he's on the ice, vs. Karlsson's 50.4% (all stats 5v5, from War on Ice). Klingberg also beats out Karlsson in unblocked shot attempts, shots on goal, and goal percentages. Karlsson also has double the relative number of offensive zone starts to Klingberg, and has an unsustainble 13% 5v5 shooting percentage compared to Klingberg's 3.6%. Both have high PDOs, but Karlsson's is even higher, saying he's benefited more from lucky shooters and/or hot goaltending. Klingberg has the better scoring chance percentage too, though their high-danger scoring chance percentages are about the same.

Now you could argue that we know Karlsson can keep this pace up over the course of a season, but we haven't seen enough of Klingberg to know if he'll regress from elite to merely very very good. Karlsson also has the notoriety of having won the trophy twice before, which may help him. But as things stand right now, either of these two are great choices for top defenceman, and I might even give the slight edge to Klingberg.

But in terms of value to their team? I don't think Klingberg can touch Karlsson. The Stars have elite scorers Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn leading the way. Meanwhile, Karlsson is easily the best Senators player. Karlsson currently leads the team in points with 22, three ahead of second place Bobby Ryan, while Klingberg is seven points behind Seguin (and six behind Benn). Ottawa is currently tenth in the league with a 20.6% powerplay efficiency. Ottawa has 13 powerplay goals, and Karlsson has eight powerplay points, which helps you to realize just how crucial he has been to Ottawa's PP. Similarly, Ottawa has 113:29 total of PP team on the season and Karlsson has played 99:25 of it. That's nearly 88% of Ottawa's PP time of the season essentially built around him. Klingberg, for comparison, comes in at a more manageable 65% of his team's PP time. Even P.K. Subban is "only" at 79% of his team's PP time.

Going back to those shot-based numbers. Karlsson may only get 50.4% of the 5v5 shot attempts, but the team gets 42.8% when he's off the ice. That 7.6% difference (often called Corsi Relative %) is a lot better than Klingberg's 2.8%. Fenwick and shots paint the same picture. In scoring chances, the Stars actually do worse with Klingberg on the ice than with him off, while Ottawa is much better with Karlsson on the ice. Pretty much, Klingberg plays on a much better team than Karlsson, and that should hurt his chances at winning league MVP.

Now I know that Karlsson won't be up against just Klingberg for the Hart Trophy. Karlsson will instead have to contend with the Art Ross winner (I'm calling Seguin right now), the Rocket Richard winner (Benn is the current leader), and Vezina winner (looking like Henrik Lundqvist right now). I just had two ideas to point out. One, John Klingberg is an excellent defenceman who deserves a long look for the Norris Trophy, and could beat out Karlsson. And two, if the Sens make the playoffs, it will be due to their best player, and he will deserve at least a Hart nomination.

Sens Links:

  • Ottawa beat the Flyers over the weekend - here are your recaps [Silver Seven recap, Rank the Performances, SensChirp]
  • Meanwhile, the B-Sens continue to be terrible, losing to the Marlies most recently [Silver Seven]
  • The Sens have made a few changes to the roster for the upcoming road trip: Chris Driedger will be the backup, Colin Greening and Mike Kostka will most likely be the healthy scratches [Silver Seven, 6th Sens]
  • Your Ups and Downs Neutrals from a week in which the Sens played some baaaaaaaaaaaad opponents [Silver Seven]
  • Episode Varada of the Chet and Luke Podcast features... James (not Varada?) of WTYKY! [Silver Seven]
  • In a FanPost, user BigRig_GR wants to hear what you would do to upgrade the Sens' defence [Silver Seven]
  • In case you forgot, here's Wilke's Klingberg vs. Karlsson article [Today's Slapshot]
  • Andrew with 13 thoughts on Mike Hoffman, Shane Prince, and more [WTYKY]
  • Kevin Lee takes a look at the negativity among Sens bloggers, and argues why he thinks it's justified [Sens Nation]
  • Peter Levi's frequent Thoughts column. I appreciate how often he responds to articles here, and chimes in agreement or disagreement [Eye on the Sens]
  • Bobby Ryan doesn't want to talk much about his current scoring pace [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Colin White has had quite the start for Boston College, with 17 points in 11 games [Ottawa Citizen]

Other Links:

  • Bryan Trottier with a letter to his 10-year-old self, reflecting back on his NHL career [Players' Tribune]
  • SB Nation trots out some absurd ideas to increase NHL goal-scoring, probably as a commentary on how absurd it is to think the NHL needs to drastically increase goal-scoring [SB Nation]
  • A look back at some of our favourite moments from Alex Ovechkin's career [SB Nation]
  • Ian Mendes with a beautiful takedown of Minecraft from a parent's perspective [Today's Parent]
  • The Rangers seem to be in a similar spot to Ottawa - great goaltending has masked poor defensive play. For the Rangers, it may be due to poor defensive deployment [Today's Slapshot]
  • James Mirtle on how James Reimer worked on his puck tracking to improve his goaltending ability [Globe and Mail]

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