One of the most trickiest question heading out of this NHL season will feature Erik Karlsson and his future. Well, this same exact question mattered last year as well. Then he was finally traded to San Jose from Ottawa, but that might not be the end of whole saga.
Erik Karlsson has found his stride with the Sharks after early struggles, one would say. After being miserable in his first few games at the Bay, Karlsson is looking more like Karlsson again. In 37 games this year Swedish defenseman recorded two goals and 24 assists for 26 points including a 8-game point streak featuring 10 assists.
What about his future? Dan Rosen from nhl.com does not think Karlsson will be in San Jose at the beginning of the 2019-2020 NHL season. It is clear that the Sharks are all in this year. They were in the same situation last season, but after adding guy like Erik Karlsson, that´s definitely a huge kind of boost a team can get.
Tough time for Karlsson to focus on hockey
Whatever happens during current year, Erik Karlsson will be unrestricted free agent next July. If he does not resign with the Sharks, may the sweepstakes begin. And those one would be huge. Someone would surely overpay for such a brilliant defenseman. It is very important to see whether Karlsson will win the Stanley Cup or not next June. If he will, he can choose anybody who will offer him the largest amount of money. Otherwise he has to take Cup contenders in his considerations.
After challenging summer with moving from Ottawa, probably another one is ahead for Erik Karlsson. The pressure mounted on him is momentarily enormous. A 28-years old guy from Landsbro in Sweden is a cool one to easily handle all of this. Two-time Norris Trophy winner is far away from adding his third award this season, but that might be the question for upcoming seasons.
San Jose on the other hand will try to keep him within their roster. Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Erik Karlsson, all of these important guys will become UFAs and many important young weapons like Timo Meier, who is having an outstanding campaign, or Kevin Labanc, will be RFAs pending extensions too. Is sure looks like Karlsson´s spell in San Jose will be just a short one. But hey, nothing is sure in this league.
Erik Cernak is here to stay, at least as it is now in Tampa Bay. Young defenseman was not even expected to play this season but he already played in 16 NHL games this year.
Coach Jon Cooper talked about him last weekend and expressed his surprise about the young Slovakian d-man’s rise. Cooper said, that based on the training camp, he did not expect Cernak to get NHL anytime soon. Yet he has played 20 games on a very high level.
Cernak was more than a solid substitute of right-handed veteran defenseman Anton Strålman. Strålman is an excellent defenseman with plenty of experience with the age of 32. Cernak played solid, collecting +8 rating and 5 assists.
If there is any injury doubt in the remainder of the season, Erik Cernak should be Tampa’s first choice replacement. But looking further than this year, Cernak might be a very reasonable solution for the Lightning.
Young defenseman a healthy solution
Coming next July, the Lightning will have approximately 12 million in their salary cap space to sign so many key weapons. Most importantly Brayden Point, but also trio of experienced veteran defencemen – Braydon Coburn, Anton Strålman and Dan Girardi.
You cannot resign all of these guys if you are the Bolts. And now you will have just three available defencemen signed – McDonagh, Hedman and Sergachev. And… Erik Cernak, still being under his entry-level contract.
I assume that the Lightning will give up on at least one of the three mentioned UFA-to be defencemen. If Tampa Bay needs one of those replaced immediately, here is 21-years old Slovakian D-man to play.
If Cernak is ready to play a full 82-game season for the Lightning, there should be no problem at all and he can be both effective and nice solution for the salary cap hell, which is coming to Tampa Bay starting next July.
All we have left are goaltenders now! But in reality who cares about those freaks of nature and their weird pregame rituals. Better off not ranking those creatures of hockey. Just kidding, honestly just hoping a goalie comes across this and gets a laugh out of it.
Anyhow… this year 2018-2019 Top-30 Fantasy defenseman heading into the year are as follows…
(Based on G, A, PT, PPP, PPA, PPG, PIMS, HITS, TOI, SHOTS) I do not account for blocks here because not every league or most leagues run that way.
Ok, I was completely torn on this one. I am a big advocate for defenseman but some guys like Ekman Larsson, Ristolanien, Barrie fall off a bit due to their plus/minus, other players surrounding them, and honestly injury concerns. I like the bottom of the pack, around McAvoy down and think they all can be interchangeable at some point in the year. We can easily see Montour take off and surpass McAvoy but that bottom of the list is young and up and coming for sure. The top 10 is pretty simple, you cannot argue that or maybe you can but to me that’s pretty realistic. Anyone within that top 10 can realistically win the Norris this year to be honest.
The list looks good to me perhaps you do not agree. If not, feel free to comment below or tweet at me on Twitter @liveinthestands !
See you tomorrow for top-20 goalies for the 2018-19 year! To see what last years list looked like click here to find out!
Well, well, well would look at this here. The NHL once again snubbed players for the Norris trophy. Year after year this happens and this year they messed up BIG time.
This year’s finalists are Drew Doughty(LAK), Victor Hedman(TBL) and P.K. Subban (NSH)
Doughty ended the year with 10 goals, 50 assists, 60 points ranked 7th among defenseman in points, playing all 82 games also not to mention. 11th among defenseman in plus/minus with a +23, tied for 16th for power-play points with 20 points. Finally ranked 1st for the defenseman with 26:50 average time on ice.
Victor Hedman played 77 games this season ranked 5th among defenseman with 63 points, 17 goals and 46 assists, second among plus/minus with a +32, 5th for power-play points with 26, lastly 5th among defenseman for time on ice per game with 25:51.
P.K. Subban played 82 games this season, ranked 9th among defenseman with 16 goals and 43 assists, ranked 20th in plus/minus with a +18 rating, ranked 7th for power-play points with 25 and 21st for time ice per game with 24:07.
What is the fuss? Oh well, the fact John Carlson nor John Klingberg were finalists is the fuss. At least one of them for christ sake. If you look at the supporting cast of all these finalists how could they not perform to be the best in the league year in and year out? In L.A. you have Doughty playing alongside Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, the late addition of Dion Phaneuf, Derek Forbort(not terrible, had 18 points this season), Christian Folin(again not bad had 13 points in 65 games). Either way, the Kings have four very solid defenseman that supplements Doughty quite well. Yes, he is the driving factor in L.A. and keeps the ship afloat but it does not hurt when you have two defensemen next to you that produce and can line up with other top forwards in the league. Now the Lighting and Victor Hedman, I mean cmon, the guy had Kucherov, Stamkos, Palat, Johnson, Point, Gourde, Killron, Miller up front to give the puck to can’t be too hard to get assists. And again yes Hedman is unbelievable without a doubt I am not saying he does not deserve it, but there are other guys that could have possibly been nominated. On top of playing with Ryan McDonagh later in the year and Mikhail Sergachev also, Anton Stralman is no slump and as much as you want to think it but Dan Girardi is a solid defenseman in that system Tampa plays. Do we even need to discuss PK Subban here, the Predators are absolute powerhouses of the league and were all year. On top of having one the best top nine in the NHL. Subban then played alongside the best d-core in the NHL. With Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi(top-10 defenseman), Ryan Ellis, Alexi Emelin, Yannick Weber, literally a backend that is LOADED. Subban played great, and I love him but don’t think he is worthy of this nomination though.
Why John Carlson or John Klingberg? OK, well you look at Washington’s back end last year with Nate Schmidt and Karl Alzner all season plus Kevin Shattenkirk for 19 games, the Capitals then had Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson and Dimitry Orlov a very reliable back end. Take away Karl Alzner a guy who ate major minutes for them and played a HUGE role on that back end in most if not all big situations. Then Nate Schmidt who had 17 points in 60 games last year but his time in Washington was usually a consist 15-20 points. Then add in Shattenkirk for 19 games who took Carlson’s job on the power play when he came to D.C. so Carlson’s production was obviously bound to drop. Well, now you start the year, with Taylor Chorney, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Micahel Kempny with Carlson, then add a 31-year-old Niskanen, and 37-year-old Orpik, on top of a very inexperienced Orlov who coming into the year had only two full years in the league under his belt and coming off a career year.
Carlson was basically asked to run the power play, ok increased power play production by 16 points, average 2.5 more minutes from last season without taking on more shifts. Played the most minutes among the Capitals defense by two minutes, a close second was Niskanen. And even though Carlson was not in the top 10 for time on ice per game he still produced the most points for a defenseman outscoring all defenseman besides Klingberg or Hedman by either 4-5 points. Not to mention he was not on the Lightning an Atlantic powerhouse or the Predators an NHL powerhouse. I am not discrediting any of these finalists but the numbers are clear, yes Carlson was on the Capitals and they won the Metropolitan but by no means were they a powerhouse of the NHL. They went through a lot of roster changes and asked some guys to step up, i.e. Carlson and look what he did. Went from 37 points in 72 games to 68 in 82 games. Carlson led all defenseman in points, ranked 2nd for power play points(32), 4th among assists and tied 8th for goals(15).
Case for John Klingberg now, this one is very obvious. This guy was expected to play a major role after Dallas had a terrible season in 2016-17 and added Alex Radulov to supplement Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Also, Ben Bishop to give them a reliable starter. Dallas expected Klingberg to turn it around especially since he had 49 points in 2016-17 after producing 58 in 2015-16, therefore a lot of pressure was on Klingberg and the Stars had sights on the playoffs and more. Although they missed the playoffs by a few points due to Ben Bishop and other reasons, the Stars still had a better season this year than 2016-17. As well did Klingberg, who produced 67 points an 18 point increase from last season. Plus, who did this guy even have alongside him? Marc Methot who missed the whole season basically. Esa Lindell a young defenseman who produced well actually, Dan Hamhuis, who yes is a solid defenseman. Perhaps Stephen Johns or Greg Pateryn. Ok, so Klingberg had one or two defensemen who could supplement him and play alongside him to his kind of level and or capability. Klingberg ranked top four among his team in points and only trailed Radulov by 5 points. Klingberg not only ranked among the top for this team but also was 2nd among all defenseman in points, first in assists, tied 40th for goals, 14th for power-play points with 23 and 22nd for time on ice per game.
It seems like this happens too often it seems like Doughty and Hedman are literally just shoe-ins at this point. Switch it up, recongize some other players, the thor looking guy will sell tickets and get fans but give me a break. Yeah Doughty and his toothless smile and snarky attitude will get attention but the dedicated and actual hockey fans want to see something get called right here. Already ruining the playoffs with all these suspensions.
The recent news of Matt Niskanen hitting the LTIR is a tough one to swallow for Capital fans. Washington lost three defensemen in the off season and were forced to call up Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, Taylor Chorney. Three inexperienced defenseman on their roster of a hopeful Stanley Cup run is never a good sign. We all are aware that the Capitals have won back to back President trophies and have been a top team in the NHL without capturing a Stanley Cup title. And after last season it seemed like fans have written off the Capitals and said their window has officially closed.
Well with Alexander Ovechkin off to a hot start and that first line remaining unstoppable, plus T.J. Oshie and the top goalie in the NHL the Capitals still have an appealing roster capable of a deep playoff run. But one thing that concerns many is their defensive depth. Which is why they should consider Mark Streit, now Streit played a short stint with the Penguins in their Stanley Cup win last year, was sent to Montreal until David Schlemko was ready, so now Streit has cleared waivers is a free agent.
Now, Mark Streit is a 12-year veteran, has 786 games played and 34 career playoff games. He has been around the block a few times and definitely can serve as a number six defenseman on any team. He is 40-years-old so his age 100% plays a factor but he is definitely capable of playing ten to twelve minutes a game and being that veteran defenseman the Capitals could use in certain situations where they do not want to rely on a young defenseman.
Ok, so if not Streit who can the Capitals look for, well, Roman Polak is still available, John Michael Liles, Nick Schultz by no means are they top defenseman but throw one of these guys on the third d-pairing and you have yourself a more sturdy sixth or fifth defenseman than Taylor Chorney or Madison Bowey. Think about Washington, I’m just saying it would not hurt.
Suter finished fifth in Norris voting a season ago. He finally is getting some of the consideration he deserves. Suter finished third in the league in average time on ice, and even more impressively led the league in plus-minus! I think plus-minus is a great stat, it shows your overall impact on the ice, while you may not get credit for a point, often times you make an important player on that shift that leads to a goal. Minnesota has developed a deep defensive core, and Suter is the leader of it. He is as durable as they come, playing in all 82 games three of the last four seasons. He’s not an overly flashy guy, but he plays the game the right way on a consistent basis, you always know what you’re going to get out of him. Minnesota is looking to take a big step this season, look for Suter to be at the front of it.
Duncan Keith: Does he ever come off the ice?
Now 34-years-old, some will argue that Keith’s best years are behind him. However, I’m expecting Chicago to bounce back after getting embarrassed in the playoffs a year ago, and Keith is going to have to play a big-time role in the team coming back. The three-time Stanley Cup champ is a workhorse, finishing sixth in average time on ice per game. Chicago is going to need these kinds of minutes out of Keith again this season. They will be bringing in a few young defensemen, it’ll be important to lean on Keith in most situations. Dun-Conn (Smythe) Keith has shown he can play in the big moments, best displayed during his playoff MVP performance in 2015. He finished fourth in Norris voting a year ago, he will remain in the conversation this season.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson: Quiet in the desert, not with OEL!
On the topic of dark horses, OEL is a sure undervalued player in the desert of Arizona. He was overall not impressive last season, that following up back to back 20 goal seasons. The Coyotes were a mess last season, and it hurt OEL’s ability to get momentum going. He has a natural scoring ability from the point, and I’m expecting him to reach the 20 goal mark again. The Coyotes made a bunch of offseason moves to improve their team, and they believe that some of their top prospects will be ready to play full-time in the NHL. OEL will benefit this season from having a better team around him, including on the power play where he is known to do a lot of damage. With Shane Doan now gone, OEL will be taking on a larger leadership role this season, and I expect him to thrive off that.
Roman Josi: Josi puts Smashville on the map
The newest captain of the Nashville Predators, Josi is back and looking to get Nashville back to the Stanley Cup final. Josi has great ability to move the puck, but what I think stands out most about him is his skating ability. The guy can fly, and transition from defense to offense with ease. He loves to rush the puck, and it is fun to watch him navigate through opponents in the neutral zone and the attacking zone. Josi finished ninth in the league in average time on ice, and that is saying a lot considering the stacked defensive core that Nashville has. It will be a big challenge for the team without Ryan Ellis for the first few months, I’m expecting Josi to continue to step up and eat those minutes. The world really got to learn about Josi’s ability while we watched Nashville make a run to the Cup finals last season. Everyone should know him now, and I believe he is ready to be in serious Norris contention.
Ryan McDonagh: Lost love in the Big Apple
For years McDonagh has been said to have the ability to be a Norris trophy candidate, the question remained when would he break out into the elite status. He certainly took a step towards it last year, setting a new career high in assists. The Ranger captain plays in all situations for the team and took a larger role on the power play last year with the departure of Keith Yandle. What separates McDonagh from most is his vision and his skating. He can anticipate a play happening seconds before it happens and it is amazing to watch. Skating wise, this guy has such powerful strides and stays strong on his skates even when getting bumped. The Rangers added Kevin Shattenkirk in the offseason, and I believe that this move helps key up the top four defensive core which will give McDonagh more room to just go out there and be himself. A dark horse? For sure. Out of the question? No way.
During the 2017 NHL awards ceremony, Brent Burns took home his first career Norris Trophy for the NHL’s top Defenseman. Leading all Defensemen in goals with 29 and points with 76, Burns was a big factor at both ends of the ice for San Jose. With the 2017-2018 season upon us, we will take a look at the Norris trophy front runners this year, with a couple dark horses on the rise. Here are 9 Names to watch:
Brent Burns: Bearded Wonder Goes for Back-to-Back
We will start with the reigning winner Brent Burns, and rightfully so. There does not appear to be any reasons that would prevent Burns from having another season like he did last year. Burns led the entire league in shots on goal which is remarkable for a defenseman. At 6″5 and 231 pounds, Burns is an absolute force who can battle for the puck with anyone in the league, topped with his speed in the transition game going from defense to offense. The only concern some may have with Burns was his finish to the season. After getting off to an extremely hot start, Burns In his last 23 games only scored 2 goals, as there was a clear dip in his production. Despite this, he still managed to hold off Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman and win the Norris Trophy. Look for Burns to get off to another good start.
Erik Karlsson: If not Norris, Hart for Karlsson?
Karlsson is as consistent and elite as they come. He finished second in Norris voting last season, not missing first place by much. Karlsson tallied 17 goals and 54 assists for a total of 71 points. Karlsson is more known for his dynamic puck-moving ability, it was no accident he racked up 54 apple’s last season. In addition, Karlsson is one of the most gifted skaters in the league. This video from last years playoffs displays his skating ability topped off with a ridiculous pass. The cause for concern with Karlsson will be how he comes back from his foot injury. Karlsson could miss some time to begin the year. Lower body injuries are tough because you obviously can’t skate, therefore can’t keep your legs in hockey shape. It’ll be interesting to see how fast Karlsson gets up to game speed when cleared to play.
Victor Hedman: Swedish monsters year for the Norris?
Hedman has got better and better throughout each year. The Swedish defenseman broke out last season with career bests in goals, assists, and points. Despite Tampa Bay falling short of the playoffs and having a disappointing season, Hedman continued to grow and showed that despite his team’s lack of success he can still be a major force. After finishing third in the Norris race a season ago, Hedman will be in the conversation for years to come. Assuming Tampa Bay is back to playing playoff type hockey this year, I think that will only help Hedman get even better. Not an overly physical guy, Hedman plays that Swedish finesse game, he is a tremendous puck mover and a calming presence on the power play. Hedman finished second in the entire league in power play points in the entire league! We’ve also seen Hedman take on more and more of a leadership role with this team, and Tampa Bay will need this if they have aspirations of another Cup run.
Drew Doughty: Doughty bounce back for another Norris season
Dewyy! (Dewyy is his twitter handle). Doughty seems to be in the Norris conversation every single year. Doughty won the award back in 2016 and finished 7th last season. It was a disappointing season for the Kings as they missed the playoffs, but Doughty played in 82 games. One of the biggest things that make Doughty elite is his durability. He has played in 82 games for three straight seasons, and he finished second in average time on ice per game. Despite the lack of success for the team as a whole last year, the guy is a straight up winner. Two Stanley Cups and he is only 27 years old. We’ve seen Doughty be a major factor in two dominating Stanley Cup runs. With Quick back healthy and in net this season, expect Doughty to feel more comfortable playing his game and getting back into a serious Norris consideration.