Evaluating fantasy impact of the Eric Karlsson trade
Over the past four seasons combined, the San Jose Sharks boasted the No. 2 overall defenseman for scoring. Now they have the top two.
In that same span, Burns and Karlsson are the only two defensemen with more than 100 power-play points (Burns with 106, and Karlsson with 101). The Sharks’ power play just became the scariest in the NHL with that duo on the back end. Between Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Evander Kane, the team has at least three top-end forwards to stack on the man advantage even if injury should befall one of them (cough, cough, 39-year-old Thornton).
Having two defensemen from the same team top 50 points is unusual, but not too rare. With the uptick in overall league scoring, a couple of teams managed it last season (Toronto, Nashville). But there are previous examples before the scoring bump, including Roman Josi and Shea Weber in 2015-16 and P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov the previous season.
Fifty points is actually a low target for these two defensemen — they averaged 70 points per season for the past four years running. You have to go back to 2005-06, when scoring was up over 6.0 goals per game, to find an example of two defensemen from the same team even topping 60 points: Brian McCabe and Tomas Kaberle for the Toronto Maple Leafs. But that’s a fantastic example to use, as the duo managed the feat by running the second-best power play in the league that season.
Not only will the addition of Karlsson boost the power play, but all boats should be lifted by adding his presence at even strength. Think about it: Most of the time the key offensive players for the Sharks will have at least one of Burns or Karlsson on the ice. The way they join the rush, it’s like having a power play all the time.
Karlsson remains my first defenseman off the board for fantasy this season (yes, I was OK with it even if he stayed in Ottawa). I had Burns a bit lower, but will move him back into my top three for fantasy, somewhere inside the top 30 picks.
The odd man out on the power play, likely Kane, will take a hit if everyone is healthy.
Back in Ottawa, we are left with a pretty ugly situation. Honestly, this hurts basically every single Senators player except for Thomas Chabot, who will be forced to take the next step this season as the anchor for the power play. But it won’t be a great power play without Karlsson. Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, who are now the only Senators worth even considering in 12-team leagues, lose a lot of their shine here. At the end of the day, Karlsson was needed to drive the offense for this team as the main playmaker, and let’s be honest, Duchene will be next to go via trade in this stripped-down rebuild.