Yesterday we took a look at veteran Sergei Gonchar. Today we shift the focus to one of the young stars in Erik Karlsson. Coming off an All Star season where he racked up an impressive 13 goals and 32 assists in 75 games, Karlsson figures to be a key player on the Sens back end next year.
Here is what I expect from EK in 2011/2012.
Under Paul MacLean, the Sens are expected to have an improved power play and few players will benefit from that more than Karlsson. Along with Gonchar and Rundblad (assuming he cracks the roster), offence from the back end should be a strength for the Sens.
Karlsson averaged 23:30 per game last season and will likely see that number increase next year. The Sens are expected to have a young group of defenceman and there are going to be nights where Karlsson will play increased minutes because a young guy is struggling. If that’s the case, Karlsson will have to be better in the defensive side of the game.
The young Swede finished with an ugly -30 last season but under the guidance of MacLean, should learn to be a more effective player in his own end next year. Karlsson will never be a player that dominates physically but he can still improve on his positioning and ability to angle guys off the puck.
Last year Karlsson was a player that snuck up on some people.
Fans knew he was talented but EK proved he has the skills to be an elite offensive defenceman in this league. If he can continue to develop the defensive side of his game people around the league will really start to take notice.
The Sens are expected to play more of a puck possession style next season and that will mean guys like Karlsson will be given a little more opportunity to be creative with the puck. His offensive numbers should improve as a result. That being said, the Sens are a team that will likely struggle to score goals this year which should prevent Karlsson from a huge boost in his totals.
2011/2012 PREDICTION- 80 GP 16 G 40 A 56 PTS
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