Erik Karlsson: Among Top NHL Defensemen Points Leaders

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: Erik Karlsson #65 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at Arena on November 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: Erik Karlsson #65 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at Arena on November 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

We’re a month and a half into the 2023-24 season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have been skating on a rink of unpredictability – some smooth glides with wins, and a few slips with losses.

However, defenseman Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, is shining brighter than the arena lights. What shot him to the trophy last year? Points – and lots of them. With the San Jose Sharks, Karlsson netted an eye-popping 101 points. So, what’s his scorecard looking like now, and what might the rest of the season hold?

Where Does Erik Karlsson Rank in the Leaderboards?

Checking the stats from StatMuse, Karlsson is elbowing his way into the top five defensemen for points this season. He’s racked up 16 points so far. But who’s outskating him? We’ve got Filip Hronek with 17 points, Victor Hedman at 19, Cale Makar at 21, and Quinn Hughes racing ahead with 27 points. Hughes is practically breaking the ice this season, way ahead of the pack. Yet, Karlsson isn’t far behind – and my bet is he’s just lacing up for the real play.

What’s Karlsson’s Points Projection for This Season?

Karlsson has slapped in 16 points across 15 games. Breaking it down, we get his points-per-game rate by dividing total points by games played, which gives us roughly 1 point per game.

With 82 games in the NHL season, if Karlsson keeps shooting points at this rate, we can forecast about 87 points for his season’s tally.

This projection puts him way above his career average of 68 points, but not quite reaching the heights of last season’s 101-point hat trick. Looks like he’s aiming for a solid season, though maybe without the fireworks of last year.

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But here’s the twist – in 6 of those 15 games, Karlsson didn’t light the lamp or assist, meaning zero points. This inconsistency is like a puck that bounces unpredictably – it leaves us wondering if he can keep up his current scoring streak. Will Karlsson have more power-play performances, or are we looking at a few more penalty-kill-like games?

In the rink of hockey, just like in any sport, a little unpredictability keeps things interesting. Karlsson’s path to reaching the 87-point goal might be a mix of breakaways and body checks – some games filling the net, others, maybe not so much.

My Final Thoughts

So, there it is – projecting stats in a sport as dynamic as hockey is like trying to predict Pittsburgh weather; it’s a bit of a shot in the dark. While I’ve penciled in Karlsson for an impressive 87 points, the reality is, he could very well exceed that number or, just as likely, fall short. It’s the unpredictable nature of the game.

I’ve been pretty vocal here at Pens Labyrinth about Karlsson throughout the year. For those who’ve paid close attention to his style of play and understand the hustle the Penguins put in to get him on board this offseason, the current results should be more satisfying than a Primanti Bros. sandwich at a tailgate. Karlsson’s been a puzzle piece the Pens needed, and so far, he’s fitting in just as we hoped.

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