Erik Karlsson knows there will be trade rumors about him at the Sharks
MONTREAL | “You have to ask him what he eats. Marc-Édouard Vlasic launched this little sentence while leaving the environment of the interviews near the locker room of the opposing team when Erik Karlsson was answering questions from the Montreal media in the vast majority.
• Read also: Kent Hughes gave a former protege a job
At 32, Karlsson has rediscovered his glorious seasons with the Ottawa Senators between 2011-2012 and 2017-2018 where he was driving at a rate of almost a point per game.
Prior to the visit of the San Jose Sharks to the Bell Centre, the Swede was the leader of NHL defensemen with 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 24 games. He left his closest pursuer, Adam Fox, in the fog. The Rangers defender had 25 points (6 goals, 19 assists).
« I haven’t changed any specific things, I haven’t discovered a new formula, » Karlsson said after an optional training session on the Bell Center ice. I cannot pinpoint a specific reason. We have a good group of players even if we are not playing up to our potential. I like the atmosphere within the group. I am also happy in life in general. It’s always a good thing. »
In addition to his simple happiness, Karlsson is also staying away from the infirmary this season. Last year, he only played 50 games, scoring 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists).
“I hope the injuries are behind me. Knock on wood, you never know with this sport, he recalled. Injuries are always a big hurdle for an athlete in any sport. I feel good, my body is healthy. I feel like I can do things I did at a younger age on the ice and off the rink as well. »
In his first season behind the Sharks bench, David Quinn offered a perfect image of Karlsson.
« He gets out of bed and he creates offense, he doesn’t have to force himself, » said the former Rangers coach.
Best without Burns
If he has a good for the offensive game, Karlsson also benefits from the departure of Brent Burns. He no longer has to share the pie with the man with the big beard.
« I’m sure it was tough for Burns too, » Quinn said. They are two similar defenders, it can become painful to share. The transaction probably makes both defenders happy. There is no more uncertainty with their respective roles. Burns is having a good season in Carolina, as is Erik in San Jose. »
Always in San Jose and Karlsson’s teammate for five seasons now, Marc-Édouard Vlasic is not overwhelmed by his rebirth.
« He’s always been one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, » Vlasic said. I’m not surprised. He collected points before, but he distributed them more with Burns. Now he can pick up more. He is having a very good season. »
Sidelined for the past three seasons and still far from a playoff berth this season, the Sharks will be looking at several options over the next few months. Mike Grier, the team’s general manager, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of trading Karlsson.
“It’s pretty obvious. I’m lucky. I played in a market where it was a topic of discussion every year. But I hadn’t been touched by the rumors before my last season in Ottawa. I have enough experience, it does not bother me. I understand that it is part of the reality of hockey. Grier has done a good job since he arrived. He is driven by his work, he wants to relaunch this training. To achieve this, he must keep an open mind. »
At an average salary of 11.5 million until 2026-2027, Karlsson will not be an easy asset to move around, however.