One of three very useful defensemen will win the Norris Trophy on Wednesday night, but there’s the sense that a tradition will be broken. In many cases, high-end offense can distinguish one defenseman from another in the history of this award, yet the general mood indicates that Erik Karlsson’s “deficiencies” might hold him back.
Maybe it was just the warming glow of a hefty new contract, but Karlsson might as well have shrugged his shoulders at that line of criticism.
“I’ll probably hear about that for the rest of my life,” Karlsson said.
Considering the fact that Karlsson is just 22, that hockey “life” should be long. His coach – and fellow award nominee – Paul MacLean also emphasizes the stronger points of his game.
“Erik Karlsson is never going to be Shea Weber. He’s not going to run people through the rink,” MacLean said. “He’s not Zdeno Chara; he’s not six-foot-eight. But what Karlsson can do better than those guys is skate. That’s what separates him from everybody else.”
The plus/minus stat isn’t held in high regard as much as it once was, but MacLean is smart to point to Karlsson’s +18 mark. Karlsson isn’t a Weber or a Chara, yet the Senators don’t seem too broken up about it.