erik karlsson He’s off to an incredible start this season.
The San Jose Sharks defenseman has 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists), tied for third in the NHL behind Edmonton Oilers forwards. Connor McDavid (35 points; 16 goals, 19 assists) and Leon Draisaitl (31 points; 11 goals, 20 assists). Leads defensemen in La Liga in points; adam fox of the New York Rangers he is second with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists).
It’s a tremendous rebound for Karlsson, who scored 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) in 50 games last season. Injuries, including a torn muscle in his left forearm that required surgery, kept him out for more than 30 games.
So can the 32-year-old be the first NHL defenseman to have 100 points since Brian Leetch finished with 102 (22 goals, 80 assists) with the Rangers in 1991-92? That’s the question before NHL.com head writer Dan Rosen and staff writer Tracey Myers in this installment of State Your Case.
myers: Man, no doubt erik karlsson It’s been awesome to start this season. But 100 points? As cool as it would be to see it, I doubt I’ll be able to pull it off. First, let’s get into the “he’s in rhythm” discussion, right? I think he’s currently on 116-point pace, but how often do players keep scoring pace? Outside of McDavid, of course. There are streaks and bad streaks and for everything Karlsson has done so far, he’s going to calm down at some point. And if he’s a potential acquisition before the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline (Sharks GM Mike Grier said they’d listen if teams ask about Karlsson), how does that affect him? I know it wouldn’t be his first rodeo, but he weighs on the mind. He will have a great point total at the end, but it won’t be 100.
Pink: Tracey is right. I’m in the rhythm of the discussion. So, let’s have it. In fact, she’s on her way to 113 points. Let’s not cut him He has earned it, averaging 1.38 points per game in 21 games. The best part of his production is that 79 percent has come in with even strength (23 points). Why do I love that? Simple. He is dominating the game in 5v5. We all know he is one of the best power play point producers in the NHL. He leads all active NHL defensemen in power play points since 2009-10 (252). That leads me to believe that his power play production, six points to date, will pick up. Even if his 5v5 production drops off a bit, his power play production could make up for it and keep him on pace for 100+ points this season. The key is health. But Karlsson began this season by saying that he felt as good as he had in a long time. So let’s just say it here: A healthy Erik Karlsson will be the first NHL defenseman to 100 points since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.
myers:Dan, I’m glad you brought up health because that was going to be my other point, or should I say concern. It’s great that Karlsson is feeling better than he has in a while, because it’s been a while since he last played 82 games in a season (he did it in 2015-16 with the Ottawa Senators). And he’s going to need almost every game to reach 100 points or more. As for Leetch’s stats, the season he scored 102 points he played in 80 games and needed the No. 80 badly: He had four points (one goal, three assists) to pass the 100-point threshold. We all want to see Karlsson healthy throughout this season because when he’s in his prime, he’s amazing, and the guy deserves great health (finally). But even if he does, this is going to be a daunting task.
Pink: Discouraging, yes. Impossible, no. Ever since he entered the NHL, I always thought that if there was going to be a defenseman to do what Leetch did in 1991-92, it would be Karlsson. I think the key for him this season is that he is scoring more goals. He has 11 in 21 games. When he scored 82 points in 82 games in 2015-16, only 16 came by way of one goal. He had 66 assists. He shot 6.5 percent. This season, he’s shooting 16.2 percent. Yes, he is well above his career average of 6.8 percent, so the analytics people will attack me on the regression argument. I see it. I understand that it is possible. But if Karlsson continues to shoot the puck at the rate he’s at, averaging 3.23 shots per game, he’ll either continue to score or create chances for his Sharks teammates from the shot. The key for Karlsson is to keep shooting, because the rebound in goals is what will take him to 100 points. He is on his way to 43 goals. That he won’t get it. But if he scores in the 30s, it’ll be enough to get him to 100 points because of the number of assists he’ll start racking up, particularly on the power play, when the Sharks have opportunities to score on his shot. The odds are likely stacked against him, but let’s consider one more thing: the Nashville Predators defenseman josi romano he had 96 points last season; he didn’t get his 28th point until his 29th game. Karlsson got there in 20 games. He is way ahead of the pace and actually has room for a drop in scoring.