What's the deal with Andreas Karlsson?
Look, signing Karlsson for another season is not going to make Tampa Bay a Cup contender. Still, the Lightning signed a guy to a reasonable $500,000 contract after he showed he has some upside. Think back on last season. Was there anyone on the roster you believed had LESS of a chance to be back next season than Karlsson? He seemed lost out there, coach John Tortorella had no confidence in him and, when compared to his time in the Swedish Elite League where he was one of that country's top players, Karlsson was somewhat of a bust.
But teammate Marty St. Louis saw something and lobbied on Karlsson's behalf to get the guy more ice time. Tortorella put Karlsson up with Brad Richards on the second line in the final two games of the East quarterfinal against the Devils and Karlsson averaged almost 16 minutes, played on the power play, had five shots on goal and was 4-for-4 on faceoffs.
A few things here. First, Karlsson, 31, elevated his game during the playoffs which tells you he has something going on. And even though he played with Richards during the Devils series, expect during training camp to see him start on a third line at right wing with left wing Jason Ward and a center to be named later. The bottom line is he will get more of a chance to show what he can do. Hopefully, he will take advantage.
Now comes the debate. Had Tortorella used Karlsson more in more important situations, would we have seen some of those skills earlier? It's a kind of Catch-22, though. Karlsson wasn't used because he didn't show much, and when he was out there, he did not do well or give Torts an indication he deserved to be in positions of more responsibility. So, was there an error there? From my perspective, and I saw almost 70 games during the regular season, I don't think I would have played Karlsson more either.