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The Puck Stops Here

Most Improved Player This Season

One award the NHL does not offer that I think should exist is a most improved player award.  If such a thing existed, I think the clear winner this year should be Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators.  He is the runaway top scoring defenceman in the NHL.  His defence is rapidly improving and this makes him a Norris Trophy candidate.  Some see him as the frontrunner, though I argue for Zdeno Chara.  This is a significant improvement from the 45 point season he had last year with the third worst +/- rating in the NHL.  Karlsson has now established himself as one of the top defencemen in the game.  He is a significant part of the reason Ottawa is a playoff team this season.  Ottawa is lucky to have him.

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Brian Elliott?

He has only allowed 52 goals in 36 games for a 1.48 GAA, vs. 166 goals in 55 games last season (3.2 GAA).  He also raised his save% from 0.893 to 0.943.

Not to mention his recent streak of 3+ games of shutouts (around 200-ish minutes).

He is also a big reason why the Blues are at the top of the West.

Posted by Brian on 04/05/12 at 01:13 AM ET

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There’s also this (regarding how bad he was last season):

http://www.kuklaskorner.com/index.php/psh/comments/brian_elliott_is_worst_by_goals_versus_threshold/

GVT is at least as legitimate as +/-, if that’s what we’re using for measuring improvement.

Posted by Brian on 04/05/12 at 01:25 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I see Erik Karlsson’s improvement as a repeatable thing.  He is one of the best defencemen in the NHL and he wasn’t in the past.

Brian Elliott is not now an elite goalie.  He had an outstanding season without enough games to be a top Vezina candidate.  He is improved from last year - if he wasn’t he would be out of the league - but it is almost certain that his improvement is more of a statistical one than it is an improvement in how good a player he is.  Who would you expect to maintain their improvement into next year Karlsson or Elliott?  Karlsson is the clear choice.  Karlsson is an actual maintainable improvement.  Elliott is a statistical jump that is far bigger than any sustained quality of play we are likely to see into the future.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 04/05/12 at 01:38 AM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

I tend to agree with PSH about Elliott especially if you consider the coach and system he has in front of him.

Steve Mason ring any bells?

Posted by SolidTG7 on 04/05/12 at 10:07 AM ET

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Another thing: we’d expect Karlsson to be better, anyway, given his age. I’m more suspicious of “improvements” that come out of nowhere (like Elliott’s) than expected ones (though obviously I didn’t expect Karlsson to be so good offensively).

Posted by Ralph on 04/08/12 at 11:32 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.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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