As you have heard by now, the Pittsburgh Penguins made a huge splash in Free Agency, by trading for All-Star Defenseman Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks. You also know that last year the Penguins missed the NHL Playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons. So, with Sid, Malkin, and Letang aging by the day, you know that it is “Win Now” time in Penguin Land.
Truth be told, I like Erik Karlsson Period. I like his style of play and his finesse. The guy can shoot as well as pass at an elite level. He is All-World. Period.
However, I do think there are Good, Bad and Ugly parts to this trade, that will have long lasting effects for the Pittsburgh Penguins going forward.
Erik Karlsson is an All-Star Defenseman. He is a 3-time Norris Trophy winner, for being the best Defensemen in the NHL (2011-2012, 2014-2015, 2022-2023).
As mentioned above he is an All-World player. He can Shoot, Pass, he plays with Speed, he can play on the Power Play as well as Penalty Kill.
He owned the New York Rangers in the 2017 NHL Playoffs. Karlsson single handedly beat NYR with the King (Henrik Lundqvist) between the pipes. He willed them to the Eastern Conference Finals (Losing to the Penguins, who went on to Win It all btw) with two hairline fractures in his foot.
He can flat out control a game. He can flat out dominate. He can flat out play.
Quite frankly, I think he will help the Penguins make the playoffs this year.
Adding another player aged 30+ to the oldest team in the NHL, does not make this team any younger, any faster or any hungrier.
I also think he is kinda Weak on D… Yes, he is a 3x Norris Trophy winner. That simply means he can put up points during the regular season. It does not mean he can play tough D in front of the net during the playoffs.
This move appears to be a Letang insurance policy. We all know about Letang’s past health issues and God forbid, the probability of other things happening may increase with each passing year.
Karlsson is simply another Letang. Yes, he is a highly skilled, puck moving Defenseman who can score, however this also means he comes with his own defensive liabilities. And he has them. And can the “other” Penguin D cover for these deficiencies.
Quite frankly, I think the Penguins need actual Tough D who can play mean and nasty D in April and May, rather than someone who can light up the league during the regular season, then gets exposed during the playoffs.
The Penguins Cap situation is what I would call, Condition Critical. They are at the Max limit as we speak and it appears they will be there for the foreseeable future.
We know that the previous GM handed out some real head scratching contracts. Now new GM Dubas, must work with what he inherited. To his credit, Dubas has made some moves to re-tool the lineup and only time will tell exactly how good those moves were.
Let’s consider that Dubas had inherited bad contracts and nothing really in the cupboards except for future draft picks to play with. Either that, or it was and still is, Players/contracts OUT for Players /contracts IN, which makes any trade much more complicated than it really should be.
Quite frankly, I think the Penguin good ‘ol boys are getting older, as well as getting paid more (especially in the next 3, 4, or 5 years, depending on who we are talking about). But I’m not so sure they are getting any hungrier…
My View from the Cheap Seats
The Penguins start the season without Guentzel. So, the first crack in the Health Armour has already appeared and the puck has yet to drop on the 2023-24 season.
Can the oldest team in the NHL remain Healthy for the entire regular season and playoffs?
Next up is pace of play, aka Team Speed. Can the 30+ year old crowd hang with Jersey or the Canes?
Then comes Defense and Grit. Do they have enough for a long run?
Here’s hoping as well as a little prayer for good luck ‘der boys. Because from where I’m sitting, I can only see the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Quote of the Day:
“Hope and Pray”
Marc Penner – Writer / Author – Site Expert