Category Archives: Ott. Senators
Erik Karlsson has sat atop the NHL’s defensive food chain for multiple years now and the 2017 NHL playoffs are not the first instance of his brilliance. Rather, this year’s playoffs have acted as a magnifying glass to show off Karlsson’s raw and dynamic talent. Karlsson should be considered a top-three player in the NHL, and this year’s playoffs is the perfect opportunity for the hockey world to realize this fact.
Gone are, or should be, the days of the old school mentality that in order to be a good defenseman, you need to block shots and be anchored down in the defensive zone. Karlsson is the quintessential model of the break in this trend. Ottawa’s run to the Eastern Conference Final has finally pitted a spotlight on Karlsson and his genius as a defender, and furthermore has augmented the fact that he should be considered amongst the league’s best with Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.
Erik Karlsson has notoriously been regarded as a poor defensive player by the media. He does not play the stereotypical role of a defenseman who blocks shots and lays the body on his opponents. Instead, Karlsson uses his stick and speed to strip the puck from the players he is defending in order to transition the play in the reverse direction.
Karlsson is not the Norris Trophy winner that Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, and Zdeno Chara were. He is a new, hybrid breed of a defenseman. He exemplifies all the NHL has become over the past half a decade — quick and smart. Defenseman who stay trapped in their own end were once regarded as heroes and the best in the league. But now, those players, such as Dan Girardi, Brooks Orpik, and Kris Russell, now carry a stigma with them. The ideology has shifted from “good defensively” to “poor analytically”. Karlsson’s game is the new best in the NHL and he himself is the best at doing it. He was once regarded as an inadequate defenseman because people never saw him playing defense. He rarely has to even skate backwards. Karlsson’s game had evolved five years before the rest of the NHL followed suit, and everyone is now just catching on.
Karlsson has been as good as it gets for the past three years and beyond. As the classic HERO Chart from Own the Puck shows, Karlsson is at the top of his game in virtually every category:
His ice time skyrockets to absurd numbers, so the data is not a result of a small sample size. This past regular season, Karlsson averaged 26:50 time on ice per game. This was only behind three players, those being Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Doughty, and Ryan Suter. Oh, and Karlsson outscored the nearest of those three (Byfuglien) by 19 points in three less games.
Karlsson is averaging over two full minutes more of ice time in the playoffs. In the 13 games that the Senators have played, Karlsson has an average time on ice of 29:04. He is out there for every other shift and for half the game in some instances. It is a feat of human endurance that is rarely seen in the game today. Along with this, just to show how preposterous this whole situation is, Karlsson has two hairline fractures in his foot. Karlsson mentioned this himself after Round One, which is rare given the NHL’s unwritten injury protocol. Even if he were to usually mentioned something, it would have likely been limited to a “lower-body injury”.
“It’s something that’s done with. I just felt like getting it out of the way instead of having it keep lingering on,” Karlsson said. “I’m not much for secrets.”
Karlsson’s admittance to the injury is a refreshing change to the usual ambiguity of the league today, even if it was just to clear the air with the media. It also makes watching what Karlsson is doing on the ice even more spectacular. He’s still the fastest and most agile guy out there on any given night despite the injury.
The brilliance of Erik Karlsson this season also comes in an odd scenario, that being with Guy Boucher as coach. There was a lot of speculation prior to the season as to how Boucher and Karlsson would mix, but so far it has worked out to perfection. Boucher, a noted trap-playing and defensive-oriented coach, lets Karlsson play to his ability and freely. Karlsson is not bound to any constraints or to any system under Boucher. It is a symbiotic relationship that has provided considerable benefits for both coach and player.
Boucher has a clear admiration for Karlsson and the way he plays. He publicly praises Karlsson on the regular, especially towards the end of the season when he was dealing with a multitude of injuries.
“To see where this guy is right now, to see him this year throughout the year, he has put the building blocks one on top of the other to become the player he is now and the man that he is now. I’m really fortunate to have lived it and seen it. Everybody benefits from it,” Boucher told The National Post.
Karlsson’s run in the 2017 playoffs has truly proven to the hockey world that he should not only be considered among the best in the world, but the elite. Karlsson needs to be considered as a person who sits atop the food chain of the NHL with Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. No three players are more dominant at what they do in the game than these three men.
When it is all said and done, Erik Karlsson will be looked back on as a revolutionary for the game. His model of play has already paved the way for many defensemen who have entered the league after him, and it will continue to be a prime example for those moving forward. Being able to watch Karlsson in his prime is a privilege that should be marveled in and not skewed by a preconceived and old-school media bias.
It is hard to believe it took this long, but Erik Karlsson is finally getting the praise he deserves. Let’s not let that notion change anytime soon.
As the hockey season moves from April to May, the playing field shrinks. Currently eight teams remain, but soon enough the group will whittle down to four.
As of now, Pittsburgh, Washington, Ottawa, New York (Rangers), St. Louis, Nashville, Edmonton, and Anaheim remain. For these series, Pittsburgh leads Washington 2-0, Ottawa leads New York 2-0, Nashville leads St. Louis 2-1, and Edmonton leads Anaheim 2-1. Each of these are far from over, however the odds have begun to shift to the favor of one team per series. But the questions that begs is who, of the teams currently down in a series, has the best chance of making a comeback and advancing to the Conference Finals?
For me, it’s the New York Rangers. Although their defense, with the likes of Holden, Staal, and Girardi, is shaky, their lightning quick offense and superstar goalie could be enough to propel them on a run past Ottawa.
The Rangers and Senators have been locked in a back-and-forth series through the first two games. In Game 1, Erik Karlsson scored the game winner from the goal line with 4:11 left in regulation. Game 2 was a barn burner that resulted in a 6-5 Senators win in double overtime. The games cannot be defined as anomalies by any means, but regardless the series is not over by any stretch of the imagination.
To win the series, the Rangers need Henrik Lundqvist to go into Conn Smythe form. His save percentage in the series so far is .888, but not all of that can be attributed to him. The defensive core in front of him is less than ideal, but that is the Rangers mantra. They need Lundqvist to bail them out, which is something he did not do in Game 2.
In terms of the other teams, this is not to say that they do not have a chance to come back in the series. Each team is in the second round for a reason.
Anaheim is a rigid, experienced team that needs to take advantage of that fact against Edmonton. But, Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot are unbelievable players capable of turning a series in an instant (which they have done already).
St. Louis is in the same category as Anaheim to a sense, but Nashville is playing great right now. The series against the Blues has not come as easy as the series against Chicago did, but it is hard to bet against the Predators currently. They are using their fast paced tactics to their advantage perfectly.
Lastly, Washington has fallen into a deep hole with Pittsburgh once again. It’s hard to go against the Penguins right now given Washington’s history in the second round and against Pittsburgh in general. If they can overcome this challenge, it’s hard to argue against the fact that they will win the Cup. But it’s one hurdle at a time for Alex Ovechkin at company.
Of the teams down currently, who do you think has the best chance of moving on to the second round?
After failing to trade him, the Ottawa Senators placed 28-year-old goaltender Andrew Hammond on waivers earlier today.
Re-visiting major trades from recent years and how they turned out today. This is Part I of a series.
The Spezza deal
Dallas receives: Jason Spezza, Ludwig Karlsson
Ottawa receives: Nick Paul, Alex Guptill, Alex Chiasson, 2015 2nd
This was a relatively unimpressive haul for the Senators. Alex Chiasson was just recently traded to Calgary for Patrick Sieloff, a depth defenseman. Alex Guptill is no longer with the organization and is in Buffalo’s farm system. The 2015 second turned out to be Gabriel Gagne, who is putting up average numbers (28 points in 34 games) in the QMJHL. Nick Paul, a fourth round pick in 2013, has seen playing time in Ottawa but only has five points in 24 games. There’s room for improvement with Paul, however.
As for Dallas, they got a consistent 60 point scorer and a veteran presence. Spezza helped lead Dallas to the best record in the Western Conference this past season. Ludwig Karlsson, an undrafted free agent, is no longer with the Stars organization.
It essentially turned out as:
Jason Spezza for Patrick Sieloff, Nick Paul, and Gabriel Gagne
Verdict: Stars win the trade
The Kesler deal
Anaheim receives: Ryan Kesler, 2015 3rd
Vancouver receives: Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, 2014 1st, 2014 3rd
As for this trade, the Ducks have found consistency in it, where the Canucks have found all but that. Ryan Kesler has slotted in nicely behind Ryan Getzlaf, and even earned himself a new six year deal in the summer of 2015. The contract has the potential to be bad in the future, but it locked up a good asset in the present for the Ducks. As for the 2015 third, the Ducks selected Devan Sideroff, who had 59 points in 63 WHL games last season and played in one AHL game for San Diego with no points.
The Canucks, like Anaheim, locked up a player from the deal to a new contact. Luca Sbisa got a three year deal with Vancouver at the end of the 2014-2015 season, but has been relatively unimpressive since. Nick Bonino was flipped for Brandon Sutter in a deal that also sent a second round pick to Pittsburgh. Sutter missed most of the 2015-2016 campaign with injury while Bonino helped propel the Penguins to a Stanley Cup. Lastly, the two picks for Vancouver turned out to be Jared McCann and Derek Dorsett. McCann was recently traded in a deal that sent Erik Gudbranson to Vancouver. Dorsett was signed to a four year deal at the same time Sbisa signed his deal, and he now carried a gruesome 2.65m cap hit for three more years.
It essentially turned out as:
Ryan Kesler and Devan Siederoff for Luca Sbisa, Erik Gudbranson, Derek Dorsett, and Brandon Sutter
Verdict: Ducks win the trade
As the Hurricanes continue in their transition period, another familiar name could be on the move. It has been reported that Jordan Staal has been shopped around, only months after brother Eric was dealt to the New York Rangers. Read the rest of this entry
News came out yesterday that Nail Yakupov requested a trade from the Oilers prior to February’s trade deadline. The former first overall pick has seen his fair share of struggles in Edmonton, but has nonetheless proved to be a skilled player that can thrive in the correct situation. Many teams will be lining up to try to get Yakupov’s services for their team.
The Senators have had a very disappointing year. Although they sit in the top-ten of goals for per game, they still are in need of another weapon up front. If they lose out on Jonathan Drouin, Yakupov would be a good option to fall back on. Ottawa may also be losing key offensive forward Mike Hoffman this offseason, so Yakupov would help fill that hole.
As yet another team up north struggling, Montreal needs to heavily re-evaluate their supporting cast around Carey Price this summer. Would coupling up Nail Yakupov with his half-Russian brethren Alex Galchenyuk, who was taken two picks after Yakupov in 2012, help spark their offense? They run the risk of another failed experiment, like Alex Semin, as there is no guarantee Yakupov will regain his mojo in a new city.
The Sabres are loaded up front with young forwards such as Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Evander Kane, but Yakupov would be a nice addition to the middle six. The Sabres have dealt with serious depth issues this year with little to no production being brought in by Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson, and Brian Gionta among others.
New York Rangers
The Rangers have a lot more scoring prowess and depth than the aforementioned teams, but Nail Yakupov still could be a fit in the big apple. Slotting him into a second line role would potentially bump down the likes of Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast, and Oscar Lindberg, but it adds another threat to the Rangers lineup and makes them more dangerous on the wing.
There will be plenty of suitors with interest in Yakupov, the question that remains is if the Oilers will be willing to sell him for lower than what his ceiling may be. Edmonton has placed themselves in a tough situation, but regardless of what they get in return, it is clear that Yakupov and them both need to move on from each other.