First in NHL assists.
First in points among NHL defencemen.
First in shots among NHL defencemen.
First among NHL defencemen in Take-Aways.
Tenth in TOI among NHL defencemen.
One hundred twenty-seventh in Hits among NHL defencemen (thankfully!).
Final year of his ELC.
It has been a real pleasure watching the development of Karlsson’s game under MacLean. Erik has gone from a free wheeling, all offence player, to a free wheeling, all offence player, with a defensive conscience, if not dedication.
The big difference seems to be in Karlsson’s recognition that he is taking chances, and putting himself into bad defensive positions. In the past Erik seemed so focused on what he was doing, in attempting to create offence, that when it went bad, he was not prepared to cover for his bad positioning. Now, although Erik is still pushing the offence (albeit his selection has improved, somewhat), he also seems aware of his defensive risks, and more quickly identifying when the situation has “gone bad”, and thus improving his recovery, where before he was entirely caught flat-footed.
It is this combination of improved play selection, and improved defensive recovery, that has moved Karlsson from being a purely offensive defenseman, who hurt as much as he helped, to what he has been of late, an absolute stud.
And, he’s all of 21, with a paltry 175 NHL games to his name.
IF Erik can continue to develop this “smart” balance of defence and offence, the sky is the limit, really. Combine him with a partner like Cowen, who has made equally impressive strides as Karlsson, and the mind boggles at the potential.
Erik will be a RFA this off-season, and no doubt his impending contract has played a role in Rundblads availability. It’s going to be big, and I would suggest the Sens get this done now, for the benefit of all involved.