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(Still) No Peer Offensively for Erik Karlsson

April 28, 2014, 2:21 PM ET [63 Comments]
Travis Yost
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
I can't read what I'm writing because my eyes are dilated at the moment, so bear with me here.

There's a lot of talk right now about the Norris Trophy nominations -- Duncan Keith, Zdeno Chara, and Shea Weber picked up nominations. I think I'm fine with all three, though I think there's a very sensible argument to be made for Mark Giordano this year. He was fantastic, and a big reason why Calgary was moderately respectable despite extremely low expectations this season.

I guess there was a spattering of talk about Erik Karlsson not getting a nomination here, and for the most part, I'm fine with him being left out. I think he's basically Duncan Keith on steroids (minus the Brent Seabrook fella) and has been for about three years now, but he didn't have his best defensive season -- I think a lot of that can be attributed to the achilles injury; he looked uncomfortable at times pivoting in the defensive zone and battling on the boards. It's something the team and the player need to work on this summer. You sympathize with his situation, but I think everyone knows there has to be a bit of improvement on that front.

So, no Norris nod for 74-point Karlsson, and I think that's fine. But, bright side: Ottawa has maybe the most dynamic defenseman in the game still on their roster, and locked up long-term. As otherworldly as Zdeno Chara is, he's 37-years old. (The new group is Karlsson, Weber, Doughty, Subban, I think.)

Offensively, there is no peer to Karlsson. I think this is a point that needs to be hammered home. Over, and over, and over. Because for any reservations you have about his defensive game (and I had more this year, post-Achilles, then I did in his Norris season), his contributions on the offensive end just wildly out-pace any competition. It's not even particularly close anymore. This is not 800-attempt Mike Green 2007-2010, gunning with the Capitals. This is Mike Green on stanozolol.

This graph, I think, speaks volumes:

The labeled guys are more or less your biggest contributors here. By the way, just about everyone is first-pairing quality, plus-possession player, plus-goal player. I remind you that Karlsson missed most of the 2012-2013 season, so his ice-time (and) numbers are deflated.

We talk about margins an awful lot here. There are many, many weighs to accomplish this. Chara does it by being strong offensively and yielding basically nothing in the Boston Corsi% machine. Karlsson's way is to just generate shot after shot after shot in the offensive end, limit approaching infinity. He's robotic at this point.

There's probably also something to be said about how reliant this team is on his game. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it is a thing.

Another thing: Perhaps Ottawa, and the internal budget, should not waste his prime years and find a competent first-pairing defenseman to (a) play on his hip; and (b) aid on the defensive side of things. It's ridiculous that the target this summer seems to be "power forward" Chris Stewart, when it should be "Defenseman X that can create the best pairing in the NHL".

Good season. Not his best. Still one of the best. Find someone who can play with him. Et cetera.


Thanks for reading!
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