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Forums :: My HockeyBuzz :: Is Erik Karlsson the new Mike Green?
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stljam
St Louis Blues
Location: St. Louis, MO
Joined: 02.02.2007

Mar 27 @ 6:18 PM ET
How many of you remember the Norris Trophy voting of 2008-09? I'm sure the people of Washington and Boston do. To refresh the rest of you, Zdeno Chara won a stunning upset over Mike Green in the Norris voting that year. In that season, Green had a higher plus minus, 23 more points (46% more), and 12 more goals (63% more) while playing in 12 less games. Will Erik Karlsson be the new Mike Green?

This year Karlsson enjoys a 27 point lead over the next closest defenceman. He has the most goals of his peers and a favorable plus minus relative to the top 20 point producing counterparts. It seems eerily similar to be sure. I've already heard the arguments about how he doesn't play much on the penalty kill, that his game is one dimensional, that he is a power play specialist, etc. Some of these arguments have some merit while others just show the ignorance of those making the argument. Let's delve into some specifics to see how Erik stacks up.

Some perspective might be in order before we do some comparisons. In the last 10 Norris awards, the award went to the defensemen with the most total points on three occasions, the person second in points received it four times, and once each for someone in third, fifth and twelfth (Chara from 2009). Based on this and the chatter I have read and seen, Shea Weber, Zdeno Chara, NIklas Lidstrom, and Alex Pietrangelo would all seem to warrant consideration.

Many voters will discount Karlsson because he doesn’t log many short-handed minutes. I’m not sure this should be held against him. Karlsson does average more total ice time than Lidstrom, Chara and Pietrangelo. How many minutes is he coach supposed to give him? Can Ottawa really afford to give him more penalty kill time, pushing his minutes even higher? Would that even be smart? Why would you risk the extra minutes when you have Filip Kuba and Chris Phillips who gobble up penalty kill minutes (and Jared Cowen to a lesser extent)? Wouldn’t I want to use his 25 to 26 minutes a game in a manner that gives my team the best chance to win? I think his lack of penalty kill time and his unbelievable point total fuel the myth that his points are a result of his power play time. Look at the numbers as they are staggering.

Karlsson has an incredible 48 even strength points, an amount that is almost double the second highest defenseman. All but 3 of his 19 goals are at even strength. His 16 even strength goals are multiples of that of Lidstrom (7), Pietrangelo (6), Weber (5) and Chara (4). His 32 even strength assist are Secretariet lengths ahead of Chara (22), Pietrangelo (18), Weber (18) and Lidstrom (10). He is dominating his peers at even strength. The numbers seem to show his offensive dominance even at even strength. How should voters look at his defensive capabilities?

Would voters like to look at takeaways as a sign of a good defender? Karlsson has 60, significantly more than Weber (49), Pietrangelo (41), Lidstrom (25) and Chara (22). Are shot blocks important to voters? Well his shot block numbers are in-line with Chara and Lidstrom and that hasn’t seemed to be an issue for them in the past. Does a Norris winner need to hit? He has more hits than Lidstrom so that wouldn’t seem to be an issue.

Perhaps the voter should look at the ever debatable +/-? At first glance, Chara and Lidstrom are way ahead of the pack at +27 but upon closer examination it should be noted that their teams have two of the three highest ratios of five on five goals for/goals against. For every even strength goal they give up, they score over 1.30 and 1.54 even strength goals, respectively. It is also interesting to note that the Blues are second in that ration at a 1.41 ratio while Ottawa and Nashville are 9th and 11th at 1.05 and 1.02, respectively. As a result, a voter would expect the plus minus of the Blues, Boston and Detroit defensemen to be a higher. Weber, Karlsson and Pietrangelo are grouped at +19, +18, and +17 respectively. If a voter normalizes the plus minuses of these defensemen based on their team ratios, Pietrangelo becomes the only outlier, all be it in a negative way.

What might be more important to a voter is how clutch a Norris winner should be? In this category, Karlsson sure seems to have a large edge. Of Karlsson’s goals, an astounding 14 have either tied the score or given his team the lead. His peers pale in comparison with Weber being the closest at 8. If a voter’s cup of tea is game winning goals, he has a very impressive 5 and while Pietrangelo has an unbelievable 6, Weber only has one while Lidstrom and Chara don’t have any.

When I go down my voter list, he has most of the boxes checked and is leaps and bounds over the other nominees in most categories. Is he clutch? Amazingly so. Is he a minute eater? You bet. Is he capable in his own end? Definitely. Is he capable in the offensive zone? More so than any of his peers.

I hope the voters give Erik the recognition he deserves for this fine season.
daeth
Philadelphia Flyers
Location: 3/5/2020. very weird day., ON
Joined: 09.15.2005

Mar 28 @ 2:03 AM ET
Weber's defensive game is light years ahead of Karlsson's. There is no proper statistical way to measure it but you don't have to watch many games to see how much more steady Weber is defensively.

On the other hand Karlsson is significantly better than Weber offensively. I don't think it's enough to make up for the defensive gap but I would not be shocked if he still ended up with more votes than Weber.

It all comes down to how much the voters get swayed by the elite offensive season Karlsson is having. Do they go with the better all round guy (imo that's who should always get the Norris) or do they go with the guy who's having one of the best offensive seasons for a dman since the shortened 94-95 season when Coffey broke into the top 6 in league scoring?
nightmare3020
Toronto Maple Leafs
Location: Windsor Area, ON
Joined: 08.23.2006

Mar 28 @ 9:35 AM ET
He has 1 good season and is lightyears ahead of weber offensively?

how many guys have we seen light the world on fire one year then go into oblivion or have a terrible couple of years before their next great season

He is having a year to remember there is 0 question about that... but to say he is lightyears ahead of someone that has proven his worth year in and out is laughable
daeth
Philadelphia Flyers
Location: 3/5/2020. very weird day., ON
Joined: 09.15.2005

Mar 28 @ 9:39 AM ET
He has 1 good season and is lightyears ahead of weber offensively?

how many guys have we seen light the world on fire one year then go into oblivion or have a terrible couple of years before their next great season

He is having a year to remember there is 0 question about that... but to say he is lightyears ahead of someone that has proven his worth year in and out is laughable

- nightmare3020

I don't think anyone said he is light years ahead offensively. I said Weber was light years ahead of Karlsson defensively though.

If we're talking about the Norris "1 good season" is all we need to take into consideration though. At least if it's fair.
nightmare3020
Toronto Maple Leafs
Location: Windsor Area, ON
Joined: 08.23.2006

Mar 28 @ 9:42 AM ET
[quote=daeth
On the other hand Karlsson is significantly better than Weber offensively.
sorry significantly better, .... you are saying his game is significantly better

you take one year and suddenly hes significantly better. If you said his game this year then sure its hard to argue... but you didnt.
daeth
Philadelphia Flyers
Location: 3/5/2020. very weird day., ON
Joined: 09.15.2005

Mar 28 @ 9:56 AM ET
I feel ok saying that Karlsson is significantly better than Weber offensively as of now. That's different than "light years" for me, but maybe I'm weird lol. The way he carries the puck, his passing, his vision, his skating. All superior. The only offensive weapon Weber has on Karlsson is his shot, which is probably the most effective in the league so I don't mean to undervalue it.

I'm not reaching by saying Karlsson is a lot better offensively, I don't think.
nightmare3020
Toronto Maple Leafs
Location: Windsor Area, ON
Joined: 08.23.2006

Mar 28 @ 10:58 AM ET
you said lightyears in the same statement so i got the two mixed up, i was half way into my coffee
but this year he has been better yes, but unless he does it next year as well i still say webers offensive game is more proven, so in my mind ahead
top shelf 15
Ottawa Senators
Joined: 11.23.2008

Mar 28 @ 2:37 PM ET
Weber is far more the complete defender,EK will never posess his size so he will have to be a positional defender making use of his skill and speed .This already puts him at a distinct disadvanage.Not to mention if he slumps and doesnt produce his worth to his team will be greatly diminshed when compared to weber
Asquaredx2
Ottawa Senators
Location: Oh no I wasn't so stfu and I'm
Joined: 02.18.2007

Mar 29 @ 6:39 AM ET
I honestly don't really understand the Green comparisons. Offensively their playing styles aren't really that similar, and they're not similar defensively. Karlsson makes mistakes, to be sure, but his effort level in the defensive zone is substantially higher than what I saw from Green when I'd watch him.

Besideswhich, Karlsson is playing on a team that's much worse offensively. When Green had his career high (of 76 points, which Karlsson is sitting on now), the Caps scored 82 more goals than the Sens have accumulated thus far this year (so literally a goal more per game). Green in his two monster seasons only ever finished fourth in team scoring -- Karlsson for the past two years has been second and with an enormous lead on the third-highest-scorer (11 points last year, 19 so far this year, and he's not that far off Spezza for first).

Another difference is that Green was never close to as dominant over his peers as Karlsson has been this season (although obviously goal-scoring is another matter). Green won the defensive points-scoring race by 9 and 7 points. Karlsson is currently 27 points ahead on Campbell and Pietrangelo. The only defencemen ever to win the d-man scoring by 20 or more points are Orr, Potvin, and Coffey. Karlsson is also top-10 in scoring currently, which is something that hasn't been achieved since the early 90s.

So yeah as far as this season goes he is lightyears ahead of everyone else offensively. And he's doing it on a team that is very good offensively but definitely not a juggernaut. We have only three guys who you would say are legitimate top-6 forwards.
Asquaredx2
Ottawa Senators
Location: Oh no I wasn't so stfu and I'm
Joined: 02.18.2007

Mar 29 @ 6:45 AM ET
Also if you're a subscriber to advanced metrics, in terms of GVT league-wide the only skaters who surpass Karlsson are Malkin, Giroux, and Stamkos.

http://hockeyprospectus.com/sortable/

It hasn't been updated for his last game though that would only help his cause since he had 3 points and was +5.
Kinger23
Edmonton Oilers
Location: North Battleford, SK
Joined: 01.25.2010

Apr 22 @ 3:44 AM ET
The comparison only holds water if Karlson doesn't win the Norris which we of course don't know just yet.

I've always thought voters gave the Norris out based on at least a 3 year body of work. It shouldn't be that way but it seems like the voters give due respect to Lidstrom and Chara every year until they are unseated.

For that reason, and that reason alone I could see him not winning it. Based on this season, which is how it should be, I'm of the opinion that he was the top Dman in the league.
Asquaredx2
Ottawa Senators
Location: Oh no I wasn't so stfu and I'm
Joined: 02.18.2007

Apr 23 @ 8:35 AM ET
It still doesn't hold much water.

Again, Green's offensive production came on a vastly superior offensive team (like, almost one goal more per game superior). His contributions relative to his team and relative to the league were not as impressive as Karlsson's. Conversely Green was a much, much better goal-scorer, at least in one of his two mega-seasons.

Karlsson's body of work defensively in terms of quality of competition and GF vs. GA per 60 minutes ES is also IIRC better than Green's. I don't have the exact statistics on-hand.

People are equating the two in order to associate some of the negative hype surrounding Green with Karlsson.
spatso
Ottawa Senators
Location: jensen beach, FL
Joined: 02.19.2007

Apr 26 @ 9:53 PM ET
Stljam, just want to say your analysis was superb. Unfortunately there is a small group here who will hold their breath, stomp their feet and simply ignore the analysis you provided. For some reason they seem obsessed with trying to find fault with the kid. I suspect it has less to do with the kid and more to do with the team he plays for.
p_zub
Toronto Maple Leafs
Location: Toronto, ON
Joined: 02.20.2007

May 1 @ 2:11 PM ET
Weber is far more the complete defender,EK will never posess his size so he will have to be a positional defender making use of his skill and speed .This already puts him at a distinct disadvanage.Not to mention if he slumps and doesnt produce his worth to his team will be greatly diminshed when compared to weber
- top shelf 15


That is really what people mean in all these debates. If we look at the traditional "Norris winner", we names like of players like Chara, Pronger, Niedermayer, Lidstrom, who were not only near the top of their position in scoring, but you never questioned their defensive abilities, at least not in the season in which they won. Karlsson is a superb offensive talent, but would fall into the category of Zubov, Gonchar, Visnovsky, and Campbell before he would be mentioned with the likes of those mentioned above. One journalist on twitter commented that the Norris Trophy has developed into a trophy that you earn over time, being a finalist before getting your shot. Based on the list of winners, that argument definitely holds merit. Karlsson will need a similar season as last year, though Green did have two 70+ point seasons and has little to show for it.
Asquaredx2
Ottawa Senators
Location: Oh no I wasn't so stfu and I'm
Joined: 02.18.2007

May 2 @ 11:38 AM ET
That is really what people mean in all these debates. If we look at the traditional "Norris winner", we names like of players like Chara, Pronger, Niedermayer, Lidstrom, who were not only near the top of their position in scoring, but you never questioned their defensive abilities, at least not in the season in which they won. Karlsson is a superb offensive talent, but would fall into the category of Zubov, Gonchar, Visnovsky, and Campbell before he would be mentioned with the likes of those mentioned above. One journalist on twitter commented that the Norris Trophy has developed into a trophy that you earn over time, being a finalist before getting your shot. Based on the list of winners, that argument definitely holds merit. Karlsson will need a similar season as last year, though Green did have two 70+ point seasons and has little to show for it.
- p_zub



Good post. There are a few things I could contend with here but one thing is that nobody on defence but Karlsson is near the top of their position in scoring. I mean numerically there are people who you can say are top-3, top-5 in d-man scoring or whatever but Karlsson dominated the race to an extent only ever achieved by Orr, Coffey, and Potvin. He stands alone offensively.
BINGO!
Carolina Hurricanes
Location: I'll always remember the last words my grandfather ever told me. He said, "A Truck!", SK
Joined: 09.21.2009

Mar 10 @ 4:57 PM ET
yeah
kicksave856
Philadelphia Flyers
Location: I'm rooting for a huge 2 points for ya boyyyyssss tonight!
Joined: 09.29.2005

Mar 10 @ 7:25 PM ET
yeah
- BINGO!

wowwwww, asquaredx2.

the wayback machine.
prock
Vegas Golden Knights
Location: Bobby Ryan + 1st rounder for Clarkson, ON
Joined: 08.30.2007

Mar 11 @ 11:47 AM ET
LOL. It's amazing, we can now look back and say that he was definitely the new Mike Green. Some will still try to argue that his offense was enough to deserve those Norris Trophies, but those more educated about hockey know that Doughty and Weber were definitely robbed of Norris trophies that were handed to Erik Karlsson. In fact, as the only defenseman to beat PPG, and a spectacular 31 goal season, you could easily say that Mike Green probably deserved a Norris more than Karlsson, as these are both things Karlsson never could achieve. If you're going to award the Norris on the basis of offense, which I do not agree with at all, certainly Mike Green would be the one you pick.