Say what you will about the start of the San Jose Sharks’ season, but one thing is clear: Erik Karlsson is having a hot start. With a slow start from last season’s top scorers, Karlsson undoubtedly carried the team’s offensive production since coming back from the Global Series in Prague. Some would even say he’s earning that large contract he signed.
Here’s what the league had to say about Karlsson’s performance this week:
THIRD STAR – ERIK KARLSSON, D, SAN JOSE SHARKS Karlsson led defensemen with 4-4—8 in three games as the Sharks (3-8-3, 9 points) earned three of a possible six standings points. Playing in his 850th NHL contest, Karlsson posted 3-1—4 – including his first career hat trick and the first by any blueliner since Jakob Chychrun on April 4, 2021 (w/ ARI) – in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks Nov. 1. Karlsson then notched his fourth straight multi-point performance (dating to Oct. 27: 7-5—12) with 1-2—3 in a 4-3 shootout defeat versus the Florida Panthers Nov. 3, making him the fastest blueliner to compile 10 goals in a season (13 GP) since Georges Mantha in 1937-38 (also 13 GP). He finished the week with one assist in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Ducks Nov. 5. The 32-year-old Karlsson has appeared in 14 total contests this season, topping defensemen and ranking among the League leaders in game-winning goals (t-1st; 3), goals (t-2nd; 10) and points (4th; 19).
It’s pretty obvious that the Sharks have been hard to watch recently, but Karlsson’s performance of late has been a major bright spot for fans. Between having scored every single one of the team’s three game-winning goals and leading the team in offensive production, the Swedish defender has been a pleasant surprise early this season.
Karlsson is in year four of an eight-year, $11.5 million AAV contract, controversially making him the league’s most expensive defender. The 2021-22 season was considered a positive resurgence for the now 32-year-old, yet was far from making that contract seem worth it to fans. This hot start may have fans eating their words for now, but of course we wonder: how long will the good times last?
The Sharks acquired the two-time Norris winning defender in 2018, in a blockbuster trade with the Ottawa Senators. Karlsson has previously been named an NHL Star of the Week when playing with Ottawa.