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NESN Doesn't Have A Clue When It Comes To Erik Karlsson

Jim Rogash
Player we Love: Erik Karlsson

Erik Karlsson rules.

He's the best player on the Ottawa Senators without a doubt. He's also one of the NHL's best defensemen.

Despite that, he isn't held in the same regard as some of the NHL's other great blue liners - your Drew Doughty, Zdeno Chara type players. Offensively, he's well regarded (as he should be). But overall, not as much.

Nowhere is that more blatant than during NESN broadcasts of Senators games. The pot-shots taken at Karlsson's defense are numerous and tiresome. They get old really quick.

That's not to say there isn't a kernel of truth there. He's not the most defensively adept defenseman and there are times where he does not look good at all. He is by no means perfect.

The thing is, he's so offensively talented that his defensive frailties do not matter. At all. Being the possession monster he is, he's not really put in a position to defend most of the time. This is inherently a very good thing.

Consider this hypothetical: if Karlsson is inherently accountable for three goals scored against the Sens but also eight goals for, is that not a positive net result? It is certainly more conducive to a team's success than a steady stay-at-home defensemen who contributes to one goal for and one against.

I would also like to note that since entering the league, he's 18th in the NHL on-ice shot attempts per 60 minutes. In terms of on-ice shot attempts against per 60 minutes, only Chris Neil has a lower rate for Sens players than Karlsson. He drives that team's offense and by proxy, helps to avoid the need for defending.

The fact of the matter is he makes his teammates better. Take a look at his impact on possession (expressed as corsi for %) for his most common teammates.

Player CF% with Karlsson CF% without Karlsson Difference
Filip Kuba 52.9% 48.8% 4.1%
Jason Spezza 54.7% 50.6% 4.1%
Milan Michalek 53% 52.4% 0.6%
Marc Methot 55.7% 49.2% 6.5%
Daniel Alfredsson 54.4% 51.9% 2.5%
Colin Greening 53.5% 50.6% 2.9%
Chris Neil 55.4% 50.4% 5%
Zach Smith 56.1% 49% 7.1%
Nick Foligno 53.7% 49.9% 3.8%
Kyle Turris 54.3% 50.9% 3.4%

all stats via

Ignoring time on ice, that's an average of 4% increased possession per teammate. And despite his prolific team improving, he's been saddled with an average save percentage of 91.63% at even strength - that would have been good enough for 40th in the NHL last year. The man deserves better.

He deserves better because he is one of the most exciting players in the league (if not the most exciting). Between his silky smooth skating and his best-at-his-position offensive abilities, he is so fun to watch. And if you're still hung up on his less than stellar defending, consider the fact that it would only account for more goal scoring. Like I said, it's exciting when he's on the ice.

Player Person we Hate: Eugene Melnyk

He's so awesome, in fact, that even Eugene Melnyk was willing to pay him what he's worth.

Speaking of which, Melnyk is to me the most unlikable part of the Senators. I've come to learn that Sens fans feel the same way. (boy is it cool to find other fans that don't like their team's owner)

I will now present the evidence against Eugene Melnyk, A Bad Owner. Feel free to take a look at these to get some Ottawa fan opinions.

As I sign off, I just want to thank the Ottawa Senators for choosing Wade Redden over Zdeno Chara. Bruins fans everywhere thank you for that decision.