The Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators are set to face off in the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. That matchup is exciting on a few different fronts, but it ignites a debate about which team has the edge in regard to their elite blue liner.
Each club boasts one of the best young defenseman in the league. For the Habs, it’s Norris Trophy favorite P.K. Subban. For the Senators, it’s the reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Fans have already been raging over this debate, and the winner of this series could take some bragging rights.
There’s no doubt that each is elite. They are two superstars on the blue line and will be around for a number of years. But who is better? Is there a clear winner? Probably not. But we’re going to make a case for each. This one will explore why Subban is the better defenseman than Karlsson.
As far as pure skill, it’s pretty even. But when you look at the total package, their play at both ends of the ice, their off ice persona, their charisma, you definitely have to give an edge to Subban.
When Subban is on the ice for the Habs, there’s an electricity that you can feel. His hands are unreal and he can move the puck in a way that almost no other defenseman in the league can.
Many have taken Subban’s 2013 season and compared it to Karlsson’s 2011-2012 season in which he won the Norris. In a shortened season, what Subban did was even more impressive than what Karlsson did last season. He finished just two points shy of tying Karlsson’s output on the power play, with 26 points on the man advantage.
It’s difficult to extrapolate point totals over an entire season, but if you did that for Subban’s production in 2013, he would have been right around what Karlsson did last season, and that’s with playing in a few less games due to his early season contract dispute.
There’s also the matter of playing with an edge. Subban is more willing to play the physical game and give up the body to block shots. That may be the biggest difference in their games.
It’s not a tremendous gap, but the edge goes to P.K. Subban as the best young defenseman in the league. That will carry some validation when he grabs his first career Norris Trophy later on this summer, equaling Karlsson in the awards department.
Stay tuned for when we take a look at why Karlsson is the better defenseman.