Despite scoring 74 points this past season, one that began months after recovering from a sliced Achilles tendon, Erik Karlsson failed to meet Paul MacLean’s standards.
While acknowledging the challenges his star defenceman faced, the Ottawa Senators coach didn’t let Karlsson off the hook for some of his questionable defensive play.
"Offensively, he’s gifted. Defensively, his competitiveness was hampered by his continuous recovery from his Achilles tendon injury he had last year," MacLean told The Casket, a weekly newspaper in Antigonish, N.S. "He’s not a big guy so he has to depend on his skating ability and stability on his skates and he didn’t have a lot of confidence in that.
"In saying that, it can’t be an excuse for some of the shoddy play he had during the season. He is our best player and moving forward he’s going to be an important part of what we do."
MacLean said one of the biggest concerns in Karlsson's game was his penchant to turn the puck over when exiting the defensive zone.
“We turned the puck over more than anyone in the league inside our defensive zone and that certainly led to scoring chances for the other teams,” he said.
“Our goalies didn’t have much of a chance on some of the turnovers.”