Weekend Grab Bag

bleachure_creature_karlsson

On PK Subban and the salivation over Ottawa potentially trading for him 

I don’t think anyone is seriously thinking this could happen, though it’s fun to consider. Putting aside likelihood, should Senators fans even want this to happen?

First of all is the absolute king’s ransom it would take to pry him away from a division rival. Forget that a team like Philly, who’ve been throwing bags of money and draft resources at defencemen and goaltenders for what seems like years, are sure to drive up Subban’s price; Ottawa would need to absolutely wow Montreal with an insane offer. Ottawa has the assets in their system, but trading them for a premier player only happens once in a franchise cycle. They were deep in the Rick Nash talks—that’s the sort of player Ottawa’s assets will buy them some day. Do we want PK Subban to be that player, knowing we only get one shot at improving the club? Even if they do trade for him,would they want to sign him to the kind of deal he deserves? It would probably resemble the team’s actual top pairing puck-moving defenceman: between five and seven years, in excess of $5MM per.

Sure, Subban is an exciting player, and he fits Ottawa’s system, which emphasizes skating and puck possession, and he eats minutes up. He’s a bona fide top pairing defenceman, and I like him a lot. But looking at Ottawa’s areas of need, he might upset the apple cart a bit too much. Ottawa already has a go-to puck moving guy playing 25-30 minutes a night (can’t remember his name…Carling or something?). Subban wouldn’t compliment him on the top pairing, where you need a Methot or Kuba with a steady hand on the wheel. Which means you’d have Subban playing diminished minutes with Phillips as basically a very expensive upgrade on Gonchar. Furthermore, you’ve already got guys in the system who project as second pairing puck-movers—Patrick Wiercioch and, a few seasons from now, Cody Ceci. Finally, Ottawa JUST traded a blue chip puck moving defenceman, David Rundblad, for Kyle Turris. Why then turn around and throw resources out of the window to bring in another player in that mold? (Mould?)

I know there hasn’t been a legitimate peep about Ottawa actually going out and getting Subban—it’s all blog speculation right now. But even this fantasy scenario doesn’t hold up too well under scrutiny. Someone make this trade happen in NHL 2013 and tell me how it works out.

On Karlsson and expectations

There’s a weird narrative, which James has pointed out in previous posts, that Karlsson flew under the radar last season and that’s why he was able to score so many points. To buy into this you have to ignore all of the scouting and video coaching happening in the NHL, where I’m sure someone probably would have asked, “Hey, who’s THIS little guy with almost a point-per-game and playing 25 minutes a night at the halfway mark? Maybe we should cover him.” Dellow also had a post last year (he promised a second part concluding his logic, but as far as I can see it never came) which I thought had some telling skepticism in it. He suggested that Karlsson received a number of incidental assists on a high-scoring team. As those in the comments point out, incidental assists are something every player on a team like that might receive. To put it diplomatically, I think Dellow’s comments belied a broader skepticism of Karlsson’s abilities, and he was suggesting that Karlsson would regress. That doesn’t seem unreasonable; what, is he going to score 20 more points than the next highest-scoring defenceman every year?

Three games is a tiny sample size, but it’s been incredible to see the jump in Karlsson’s game so far. He’s a Norris winner who’s actually surprising his hometown fans. He’s not just jumping into the play, he’s consistently playing up at the opposition blue line creating turnovers. You only need to look at his disgusting goal against Florida last night to see it in effect. Two nights ago, again against Florida, he had a number of breakaways and quality chances, and could have broken that game open by himself. (We had to be satisfied with a 4-0 win.) And of course his shot from the point remains laser-like.

Something that bears mentioning: he’s leading the team in shots at the moment with 14 through three games. Turris (who sports an unreal 30% shooting percentage) has 10. For context, Alfredsson has nine and Spezza has three.

Last year’s Norris-winning Karlsson reminded me of Lidstrom (hold on, hold on, lemme explain!) because, to be honest, he wasn’t flashy and noticeable out there. He was just sort of effortless about it all. He had a great outlet pass, he could get back into position when caught, and his shots seemed to get in, seeing-eye style, from the blueline. This year he has all of those same traits, except he’s also seemed to develop a game-breaking ability. I don’t know how many times through these first three games I’ve seen Ottawa execute a textbook breakout play only to suddenly find everyone, Senators and opposition alike, looking up ice at number 65, who’s snuck up on the play, stolen the puck, and broken in on his own. He’s got just unreal vision and anticipation.

All this to say: this is going to be a fun year to be watching Karlsson. Like last year’s Ottawa Senators, he might just trump expectations if he can keep this up. It will be interesting to see what he can do against the Pens later in the week because, hey, let’s be honest: we have played the Panthers 66.6% of the time so far this year.

Latendresse is snakebitten

Yup. The penalty shot in last night’s game made it official. He’s getting in position plenty, and his pass to Turris in game two was beautiful, but does anyone else have the feeling that this guy is one goal away from the dam breaking? It’ll come, The Tenderness. Just let it happen.

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