On September 13th, 2018, the San Jose Sharks added elite defenseman Erik Karlsson to their already good team. The Sharks always put good teams together every season, but always come up short of winning the Stanley Cup. Team teal has only made two big signings in the last 13 years that made a huge impact on the franchise and those players were Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. Thornton brought his size and amazing passing ability. Burns brought a powerful slap shot, hard work mentality, and fun-loving personality. Now with Karlsson, he fills in the missing piece of the Sharks having that extra talent on the roster.
Since 2009, Karlsson has the most goals scored by a defenseman. He is one of the best defenseman in the league because of his scoring ability, power play presence, ability to break up plays on defense, and make other skaters around him better. He had around 20 goals and 50 plus points in his best seasons with the Ottawa Senators. So when the Sharks picked Karlsson up, they were hoping he would make an instant impact for the team. Well, surprisingly this wasn’t the case right away.
Karlsson struggled the first two months of the season putting up just 2 goals, 13 assists, and a -9. Also, the Sharks were playing on and off hockey to start the season and weren’t living up to the hype that everyone in the NHL put them at. It’s almost like Karlsson was putting too much pressure on himself, as the rest of the Sharks stars were thriving. Fans at games were starting to get a little worried with the lack of production, but still hopeful that he could turn it around. Then once Karlsson blasted his first goal of the season in November, he would start to find his stride.
In December, Karlsson scored 1 goal, picked up 16 assists, and had a plus/minus of 11. He started to break up more plays on defense, got better on the power play, and didn’t go to the sin bin as much. Now he is back to his all-star status and his recent production earned him a spot in the NHL All Star game. He also got the Sharks player of the month award. In his latest game, he helped the Sharks beat the NHL best Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. He had 2 assists, 2 plus/minus points, and a power play point. Now that Karlsson is putting points up at will, team teal will start to thrive in the second half.
The San Jose Sharks are in a tight division race in the Pacific and all their stars are have good or possibly career years. Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Timo Meier have been lighting the lamp at a fantastic pace. The Burns and Karlsson effect is coming to play as they have been on a crazy points pace over the last ten games or so. The goaltending Martin Jones and Aaron Dell have been below average from what Sharks fans are use to seeing, but Jones is looking a little better as the second half starts up. All in all, Karlsson makes the defense whole and full of talent, the team has one more elite, scoring force at the blue line, and above all, the guy competes at a high level night after night. Only time will tell if this guy is the guy that puts the Sharks over that Stanley Cup bump.
– Michael Garaventa, WTF Sports Intern