The hype game is typically not worth it. Carolina Hurricanes fans went bonkers for Bo Horvat last season at the trade deadline. Nothing happened. We all look back at the Necas All-Star voting with the same tone as that of 2019 through 2022. But I have to say I was quietly hoping the Hurricanes would end up with Erik Karlsson. Especially since what we have ended up with is a little like wanting a date with “Stereotypical Barbie” only to be matched up on a blind date with “Serial Killer Barbie” who takes you to visit a secluded cabin for a picnic of onion sandwiches and tuna salad.
Karlsson has 14 years and 920 NHL games. The 2022-23 season was his very best in a number of years, and ranks at the top across the board for his career with the exception of power play points.
Along with NHL experience, Erik Karlsson has the ability to produce regularly over the course of a full season. Last season, Karlsson’s longest pointless streak was 2 and he ended the year with 101. Maybe most impressive yet, especially with his years in the league, he had fewer than 20 shifts only twice last year.
His point production (25 G, 76 A) and ability to consistently play would have been a welcomed addition to Carolina’s defense, IF a move had to be made on a point producing defenseman. I would argue, the defensive corps was fine, and it is the offense that needed a few nudges.
Instead of waiting to see if they could pick up Karlsson with a respectable contract, Carolina first added “sandpaper” with a youngish set of knuckles that has “healthy scratch” written all over him. Then they went out and got a slightly younger (Karlsson is 33) defenseman with a myriad of problems on the defensive side of the ice, and a proverbial poot in the punchbowl among many in the fanbase.
Certainly, Erik Karlsson has potential issues. His time in Pittsburg could be riddled with the ghosts of a 33 year old trying too hard to ride out one more year in the league. The risk of injury, as Carolina unfortunately saw with the Max Pacioretty gamble, is always a factor.
His defense was suspect as well, Karlsson ended the year at -23 and is a career -103. There are worse options out there, but you would have to look under a few rocks. Given the route taken by Carolina, I cannot see it as any worse.
And let’s face. Erik Karlsson coming to Raleigh would have been less dramatic to the fanbase. Certainly Carolina Hurricanes Content Makers would have gotten fewer emails on their personal accounts.
What impact Erik Karlsson would have had is really unknown. I still held my breath and believed a little of the hype surrounding Karlsson. Carolina has had good luck with former defensemen from San Jose Sharks of an older vintage. Expectations, and the conditions would have been perfect for a stellar year to perhaps end a rather successful NHL career on, or keep playing for a few more and pad those career stats. Karlsson would have carried with less baggage to Ye Olde North State, than what has recently set up shop at PNC that is for sure.