Phoenix Coyotes v Detroit Red Wings

Oliver Ekman-Larsson: the next Erik Karlsson?

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Judging by the fact that he currently has a point-per-game, there’s really only one defenseman quite like Ottawa Senators star Erik Karlsson. (In fact, there are just six forwards who have more points than his 70 this season.)

Still, the NHL is brimming with young talent and former general manager Brian Lawton pegs Phoenix Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson as just a season behind the Senators stud.


Interesting thought, but how does that comment stack up? Let’s look at some of the similarities between the two:

  • They’re both Swedish (and their last names end in -sson, which is super-relevant, I know).
  • Each guy was drafted in the first round. Backing up Lawton, Karlsson was selected 15th overall in 2008 (and is 21 years old) while the Coyotes tabbed the 20-year-old Ekman-Larsson at No. 6 in 2009.
  • Strong sophomore seasons: after partial rookie seasons, both played well in their second (and first full) campaigns. OEL is at 28 points while Karlsson finished with 45, although Ekman-Larsson’s -1 rating is more palatable than Karlsson’s -30 from 2010-11. (Naturally the two situations aren’t the same, which is why plus/minus is a shaky stat.)

Sure, there are some differences – most obviously, Karlsson has a right-handed shot while OEL shoots with his left – but Lawton doesn’t seem out of his mind or making the comparison.

Ekman-Larsson may struggle to flirt with Karlsson’s crazy numbers in a less wide-open system in Phoenix, yet it seems like there are some intriguing similarities between the two players’ paths. What do you think – is OEL on his way to becoming a star close to Karlsson’s scale?

(Either way, the Coyotes and Senators must be delighted to have stars who are so bright at such a young age.)

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?