In the NHL Network’s latest list, they ranked the top defensemen in the league “right now”. Erik Karlsson cracked the list, but only at eighth place.
Despite being ranked sixth in last year’s list, Kris Letang dropped out of the top-20 this year for this network after dealing with a turbulent season that ended up by winning the Masterton Trophy for gutting through with perseverance and dedication to the game.
As another award winner, this time for the defenseman of the year, Karlsson didn’t get a lot of credit for that in the rankings. While it is nice to see two-way defenders like Miro Heiskanen and Charlie MacAvoy get some recognition but Karlsson feels a bit low here.
To each their own though, and this might show why the Penguins were so insistent on targeting Karlsson. Letang isn’t getting younger and while he was one of the best defenders in the league for a long, long time - that time as a truly elite player might be over. Whether Karlsson is considered the top defender, or top-five or top-ten, he’s certainly in the conversation. As commonly expected and thought of, it’s just another illustration about how adding will make Pittsburgh that much more dangerous in the final few years of the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era as this era of the team attempts to remain relevant for a few more years to come.