Mark Giordano

Sharks' Erik Karlsson ranked No. 24 player in league by NHL Network

Sharks' Erik Karlsson ranked No. 24 player in league by NHL Network

Erik Karlsson is arguably the best player on the Sharks. According to NHL Network, San Jose's defenseman is the 24th-best player in the league.

In counting down the best players in the current NHL, the league's network placed Karlsson in between 25th-ranked David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, and 23rd-rank Mark Giordano, the Flames' reigning Norris Trophy winner.

"We know that he can put the puck just about anywhere, he can skate himself out of trouble, he can pass himself out of trouble, he can do just about anything," NHL Network's Brian Lawton said of Karlsson. "For a defenseman in today's game that played on one leg basically last year … he did have 16 points in 19 playoff games and it wasn't quite enough, but it was pretty darn heroic if you ask me."

Karlsson totaled 45 points in 53 regular-season games with the Sharks after arriving in San Jose at the start of training camp last year. The Sharks had their best stretch of the season once he found his groove in early December, and if not for a troublesome groin injury, there's no telling how far San Jose could have gone.

The two-time Norris Trophy winner still managed to appear in the All-Star Game, and signed a lucrative eight-year extension with San Jose at the start of free agency. He tallied at least 62 points in each of the previous five seasons, and his 563 points since making his NHL debut are the most among all NHL defenseman, ahead of fellow Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (532).

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Karlsson will be an alternate captain in his second season with the franchise, and one would naturally expect him to benefit from having played a year in the system. He ranked sixth among NHL defensemen in points per game (0.85) last year, and with the departures San Jose suffered in free agency, it wouldn't be surprising to see that rate increase in the season ahead, particularly considering Karlsson says he feels "back to normal" after offseason surgery to address the injury that hampered him a year ago.

Assuming Karlsson stays healthy this coming season, you can expect him to be ranked even higher a year from now.

Sharks' Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson ranked among NHL's top four defensemen

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Sharks' Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson ranked among NHL's top four defensemen

Everyone knows the Sharks have some of the best defensemen in the NHL, but depending on who you ask, that might not be giving them enough credit.

Last week, NHL Network ranked the top-20 NHL defensemen heading into next season, and let's just say San Jose was well represented.

That's right. According to the league network, the Sharks not only have the best defenseman in the NHL, but two of the best four overall. The rankings seem pretty darn accurate, considering each of Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, Mark Giordano and Erik Karlsson are all former or current Norris Trophy winners.

Giordano won the award this past season after tallying 17 goals and 57 assists for the division-winning Flames. But it was Burns (16 goals, 67 assists) who led all NHL defensemen last season with a career-best 83 points.

"He's big, he's gnarly, he's a guy that is a dynamic player that changes the game in a split second," NHL Network's Ken Daneyko said of Burns. "He's such a beast, and when he's playing physical as well -- and you see that at times -- he's a menace out there."

Karlsson was acquired in a trade with Ottawa just prior to the start of the regular season, and could have given Burns a run for his point-leading money had he not been severely hampered by a nagging groin injury throughout the year. For segments of the regular season, though, including arguably the Sharks' best stretch in which they won 16 of 21 games starting in early December, he was undoubtedly their best player.

"Probably the best offensive defenseman, for my estimation, in the national hockey league," Daneyko said of Karlsson, whom he expects to have an even better season next year now that he's acclimated and, hopefully, healthy.

NHL Network posed the same question to fans, and, well, they had a slightly lower opinion of both of San Jose's star defensemen.

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There's a lot of great defensemen on that list and all of them should feel honored to be listed among them. We're going to go out on a limb and assume the Sharks are feeling pretty good about the status of their back end.

NHL awards: Sharks' Brent Burns finishes second in Norris Trophy voting

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NHL awards: Sharks' Brent Burns finishes second in Norris Trophy voting

Brent Burns made the medal stand, but he did not pick up his second career Norris Trophy on Wednesday.

Instead, Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano won his first at the 2019 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

Burns, 34, scored 83 points (16 goals, 67 assists) in 82 games, setting a Sharks franchise record for points by a defenseman. He became the first blueliner to score at least 82 points in a season since Karlsson did so with the Ottawa Senators in 2015-16, and only the 48th in NHL history.

This marked the third time in the last four seasons that Burns was a finalist for the award, and he dressed for the occasion.

Burns finished second in the Professional Hockey Writers Association's balloting.

Giordano, 35, scored a career-high 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists) and led the Western Conference-leading Flames in ice time en route to being a first-time Norris finalist. 

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was the other nominee. Hedman, 28, scored 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists) in 70 games, leading the loaded Lightning to a runaway President's Trophy win in a record-setting regular season.