Is Erik Karlsson still one of the best players in the world?
According to Karlsson, yes.
“I still think I’m one of the best players in the world,” Karlsson said after the San Jose Sharks skated this morning in preparation for tonight’s season opener.
Death, taxes, and Erik Karlsson’s confidence.
After injury-shortened 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, and career-low productivity in 2020-21, the 31-year-old is kicking off this season with the confidence of a 21-year-old.
“I don’t really think that I’ve had any bad seasons if you ask myself,” Karlsson noted.
The San Jose Sharks are hoping that this isn’t just bluster from the two-time Norris Trophy winner, signed to an eight-year, $92 million dollar extension in July 2019. Two years later, he’s still the highest-paid defenseman in the world, even if his production has fallen well short of once-elite levels.
From 2010-20, Karlsson paced all NHL defensemen with 577 points in 676 games. Last season, he recorded just 22 points in 52 contests. That 0.42 Points Per Game is his lowest since his rookie season 0.43.
“I’ve climbed to the top and I want to stay at the top,” Karlsson said. “It’s very challenging and it’s very demanding and it’s very hard to do. But if I didn’t want to do that, I would have chose a different path.”
San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner has complimented Karlsson’s approach this summer, and for what it’s worth, he wasn’t fighting injury (2019) or pandemic upheaval (2020) this off-season.
“He came in ready with a purpose this year,” Boughner shared. “In the past, whether it was injuries or maybe he took his foot off the gas pedal, [he] coasted through camp a little bit like some veterans do from time to time.”
Karlsson is clearly looking straight ahead. He didn’t seem too interested in talking about ankle surgeries or groin surgeries or career-low statistical campaigns.
“I’m not that type of person. I don’t dwell too much in the past. It is what it is. Things played out the way that they have,” he said. “I’m happy where I’m at in life right now. I’m happy I’ve gone through the things that I have. It’s all part of the plan.”
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