You have read the title correctly. The Sharks are in deed in no need of Erik Karlsson. And before you start dismantling this article and being a butt-hurt fan, or knee jerk reaction Sharks or Karlsson fan. Think about if for a second.
Let’s get into this now. The Sharks traded for Karlsson this off-season as their big off-season acquisition and it was assumed that they were going to be Stanley Cup favorites and that Karlsson made them that MUCH better.
Which is completely understandable. Erik Karlsson is a Norris trophy winner and elite defenseman, pair him with Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brendan Dillon, Joakim Ryan and you have yourself a solid d-core. Just Burns and Karlsson alone would make for a solid 1-2 punch.
Right now the Sharks are sitting 2nd in the Pacific division with 94 points, five points behind the Flames. They are 2nd in the Western Conference and 4th in the NHL. They have had a successful season without a doubt.
BUT, the Sharks have allowed 230 goals for this season (still eight games left) the most (tied with Washington) among any playoff team. Along with 3.11 goals against per game. The Sharks have not been a great team defensively and that comes with having a defensive core that is heavily offensive minded in Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Tim Heed, Joakim Ryan. Which is not a bad thing but the point of this article is to dispute the fact the Sharks need Erik Karlsson long-term.
The Sharks do not need Erik Karlsson long-term by any measure. I myself as well as you should believe that Erik Karlsson does not makes this Sharks team that much better and a future Stanley Cup team.
The Sharks success this season has come off the back of their offense. They have five 25+ goal scorers, two 15+ goal scorers, seven 49+ point scorers and eleven players with 20+ assists on the year. Without this offense the Sharks are no where as good as they have been this year. Their defense has not been any, not one bit of a reason they are successful this season and a top-5 NHL team it has come off the backs of players like Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Kevin Lebanc, Timo Meier, and Joonas Donskoi all having amazing offensive seasons. Players like Meier, Donskoi, Hertl and Lebanc well exceeding expectations this season, Pavelski scoring 30+ goals again and Burns being the lead man all year.
The Sharks sit third in goals for (263), 3rd in goals for per game (3.55), 6th in power play percentage (23.8), 4th in shots on goal per game (33.4)
Not once have I mentioned Erik Karlsson in that success because he has 42 assists and 45 points on the year, of those 45 points, 20 of them came on the power play leaving him with 25 five on five points. And I do understand that yes while it may come on the power play his majority of points. A lot of other defenseman for A LOT cheaper can get you 20 power play points a season. Is a 9.5 million dollar a year defenseman really worth just power play points? No. Matt Dumba gets 6 million a year and can do the same thing on the power play. Roman Josi gets paid 4 million a year and can do everything Karlsson does. Torey Krug gets 5.25 million a year and is a power play machine. My point is you do not need to pay someone that much money for power play purposes. Be realistic people…
Karlsson has played in only 42 games and it is apparent to anyone with half a brain that Karlsson’s injury that he induced during the Stanley Cup run in 2016-17 is clearly still affecting him and his health is a major question.
Therefore with the success the Sharks have had without Karlsson, seeing Meier, Lebanc, Donskoi and Hertl have great seasons along with the potential of Marcus Sorensen is it smart for the Sharks to invest around 57-70 million dollars in Erik Karlsson? Probably not.
Joe Pavelski contract needs to be renewed, Joe Thornton if he continues needs a contract, Joonas Donskoi, Timo Meier need contracts, Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan need contracts. Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon need contracts at the end of the 2019-2020 season. Are the Sharks really going to risk the long-term success of their franchise for one player who played 42 regular season games, did not bring much or anything at all to the table and realistically does not guarantee this team a cup now or in the coming years.
I’d hope Sharks management can see the big picture here and look at this realistically. Especially with the play of Brent Burns being as good as it has been and also only being paid 8 million a year to be the top-scoring defenseman in the league for the last three or so years…
The Sharks have a number one and two defenseman in Brent Burns. And it clearly shows that you can stack your blue line all you want but without solid goal tending and consistent offense you are not going to win a championship(Nashville). Look at the Penguins d-core in their cup runs, Washington’s last season?
It is evident to me that the Sharks do not need Erik Karlsson. Burns does a fine job sailing the ship. Plus investing a lot of money into Karlsson with his injury concerns and cap-room issues it would cause the Sharks. The Sharks would be better off letting him walk and adding more scoring and better plug-in players on their back end.