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Karlsson Top Offensive Defenceman

It is quite an achievement that Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators is the top scoring defenceman in the league.  He currently has 48 points in 52 games played.  This gives him a 12 point lead over any other defenceman in the league.  This season is already his career best offensive total.  That is quite an achievement for a 21 year old player.

Karlsson is playing against top competition.  No other Senator regular plays against as tough competition.  His +7 +/- rating is among the best on his team.  He is starting to be seen as a solid Norris Trophy candidate.  I would argue that three more well-rounded defencemen exist in front of him in Zdeno Chara, Shea Weber and Nicklas Lidstrom, but he is the best of the next group.

Given Karlsson’s youth, it is very reasonable to expect that he will be a Norris Trophy contender for years to come if he can keep up this level of play.  If he can continue to improve at his current rate, he could become the top player in the league. 

Karlsson is not a big hockey player.  At 6 feet and only 180 pounds he cannot play a physical game.  His defensive game is mostly a positional one.  That makes him significantly smaller than Chara or Weber and a bit smaller than Lidstrom.  Conventional wisdom often claims that it is hard to be a top defenceman in the NHL unless you are big enough excel at physical play.  Nicklas Lidstrom is somewhat of a glaring exception to that claim.  Karlsson is smaller still but incredibly talented.  It will be fun to see how good he can get.

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Comments

SolidTG7's avatar

Conventional wisdom often claims that it is hard to be a top defenceman in the NHL unless you excel at defensive play.  Nicklas Lidstrom is somewhat of a glaring exception to that claim.

You don’t think Nick Lidstrom excels at defensive play?

Posted by SolidTG7 on 02/03/12 at 03:14 PM ET

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Posted by SolidTG7 on 02/03/12 at 12:14 PM ET

Actually, he’s saying the Lidstrom excels at defensive play despite being somewhat undersized, thus defying conventional wisdom.

Since the part that you quoted differs from the part that I just read, I think it’s likely PSH amended his post to correct the mistake.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/03/12 at 03:40 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

His +7 +/- rating is among the best in the NHL.

Lolz…really?  He’s tied for 45th for Defensemen with Kris Russell.  And for the record he’s now at a +6.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 02/03/12 at 03:42 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

Since the part that you quoted differs from the part that I just read, I think it’s likely PSH amended his post to correct the mistake.
Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/03/12 at 12:40 PM ET

You beat me to it Sven…that was my next post.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 02/03/12 at 03:43 PM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

Ah yeah, that makes more sense now.

Posted by SolidTG7 on 02/03/12 at 03:43 PM ET

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The careers of Karlsson and Kris Letang are going to be fun to watch over the next few years.  For pure offensive talent in a young defenseman, that pair is hard to beat.  It will be interesting to see how Karlsson develops defensively, and of course, Letang is a few years older.

Posted by Lex Talionis on 02/03/12 at 04:54 PM ET

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If Karlsson can put on a ton of weight while maintaining his mobility, look out.

And I agree; he and Letang are the guys whose development will be the most exciting to watch, because the ceiling of both guys is unclear and they have advantages in mobility that none of their peers can really claim. Seems like about once a week I see a guy on a clean breakaway get chased down and stripped by Letang, watch some more NHL tonight and see Karlsson do the same thing.

If Doughty ever gets his head on straight, you can throw him into the mix as well.

Posted by larry from pitt on 02/03/12 at 06:29 PM ET

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If Doughty ever gets his head on straight, you can throw him into the mix as well.

Yep, after I posted that i thought, hmm, I forgot about Doughty.  Of course, the way he’s played this year, my forgetfulness is understandable.  Pretty amazing to realize that Letang has only one fewer point than Doughty—despite having played in 18 fewer games.

Posted by Lex Talionis on 02/03/12 at 06:44 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Karlsson’s been pretty amazing. His size does get him in trouble from time to time, but he’s nonetheless found a way to be pretty effective in his own end. The risks he takes offensively also create problems at time, but now he can often recover with his speed and improved stick where he couldn’t previously.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 02/03/12 at 09:51 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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