Erik Karlsson will in all likelihood find himself as a frontrunner for what could be his third Norris Trophy by the conclusion of the 2017-18 campaign, yet compared to last season the Ottawa Senators captain has struggled defensively.
One major difference between this year and last year is the fact Karlsson is no longer partnered with Marc Methot. Don Cherry believes it’s a contributing factor to some of the Swede’s defensive lapses.
“The biggest mistake anybody [in the Senators organization] made was letting Methot go because Methot used to be back [when Karlsson would jump up into the rush],” Cherry said Saturday night during the Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “[Karlsson] takes chances. He takes chances and you’ve got to have a guy covering for him all the time.”
When Dion Phaneuf declined to waive his no-movement clause prior to June’s NHL Expansion Draft, which automatically protected him and the Senators chose to protect Karlsson (an obvious choice) and Cody Ceci as their other two blueliners, Methot was exposed and then selected by the Vegas Golden Knights. Five days later he was traded to the Dallas Stars.
While Methot has been thriving on the Stars’ top pair beside John Klingberg, Karlsson has been paired with Johnny Oduya, Phaneuf and Fredrik Claesson at various times throughout the season.
“Karlsson’s a good guy,” added Cherry, who was decked out in a moustache suit in honour of Movember. “They’ve got to have a guy play with him to cover him up because he takes chances. That’s why he’s so great.”