There are obvious numbers that demonstrate Erik Karlsson’s decline — and not-so-obvious numbers.
Let’s start with the obvious: In 52 games, Karlsson scored just 22 points. This 0.42 Points Per Game was the lowest of his career, just a shade under his 0.43 as a 19-year-old rookie and less than half of his NHL defensemen-leading 0.89 from 2011-20.
The San Jose Sharks defenseman’s 5-on-5 scoring rate was just as ugly: Per Natural Stat Trick, his 0.7 Points Per 60 was also the lowest of his career, while his 0.25 Primary Assists Per 60 was a far cry from 2017-20’s defensemen-leading 0.67.
And it didn’t get much better on the power play: Karlsson’s 2.93 Points Per 60 at 5-on-4 was the third-lowest of his 12-year career. That’s not all on Karlsson, of course — the San Jose Sharks had the third-worst power play in the league in 2020-21.
Save for a spike in his shooting percentage — Karlsson potted eight goals with a 7.3 shooting %, the first time since 2016-17 that he’s cleared five percent — it was a disastrous offensive campaign for the NHL’s most productive offensive defenseman from 2011-20.
But you already know all this. These numbers paint the picture — though they don’t explain it.
So let’s talk about the not-so-obvious numbers — exclusive offensive and defensive micro-stats from SPORTLOGiQ — that offer greater insight into why Karlsson has declined.
But first, the good news. Erik Karlsson is still Erik Karlsson in many important ways.
Remember the Karlsson who the San Jose Sharks were supposed to be getting from Ottawa? The coast-to-coast, one-man breakout machine? He’s still here.
So we're basically throwing our sticks to stop Erik Karlsson now pic.twitter.com/CkabqO9yEk
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 13, 2021
Karlsson’s straight-ahead speed remains a force to reckon with. He still carries the puck with aplomb:
|End-to-End Rushes (5v5 Per 20)||2017-18||2018-19||2019-20||2020-21|
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