Erik Karlsson (born 31 May 1990) is a Swedish professional ice hockey defenceman, currently playing for the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected 15th overall by the Senators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He is the 2012 winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman.
Karlsson made his Elitserien debut for Frölunda HC on 1 March 2008, recording 8:48 of ice time during a sold out home game in Scandinavium, against league leaders HV71. Karlsson scored the game winning goal, assisted by Tomi Kallio and Magnus Kahnberg, with a slapshot off a faceoff, in overtime during a man advantage. The win secured a playoff berth for Frölunda with three games remaining of the regular season.
Karlsson finished the season with Frölunda’s J20 team playing in the J20 SuperElit playoffs, where Frölunda took home the Anton Cup when they won two to one in games against Brynäs IF in the Swedish Junior Ice Hockey Championship final.
Prior to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Karlsson was ranked fourth among European skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service. He was drafted 15th overall by the Ottawa Senators, in front of their hometown fans atScotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario. The selection was made by Ottawa’s captain Daniel Alfredsson, a native ofGothenburg, who played for Frölunda before entering the NHL. Ottawa’s general manager, Bryan Murray, traded Ottawa’s first round pick, 18th overall, and their third round pick in 2009 to the Nashville Predators for the Predators’ first round pick, 15th overall, to ensure that no other team would pick Karlsson before them.
In September 2009, Karlsson attended the Ottawa Senators training camp with a chance at joining the squad even at junior age. On 29 September 2009, the Senators announced that Karlsson had made the team’s roster and would start the 2009–10 season in Ottawa. However, after struggling in nine regular season games with Ottawa, Karlsson was assigned to the Binghamton Senators. On 27 November 2009, exactly a month after being sent down, Karlsson was recalled from Binghamton. He would score his first NHL goal against Minnesota‘s Niklas Bäckström in a 4–1 win for Ottawa on 19 December and remain in the NHL for the remainder of the season and play in all of Ottawa’s playoff games.
The 2011–12 season saw Karlsson continue his development. On 16 December 2011, with his third assist of the night, Karlsson registered his 100th regular season NHL point (in 168 games) in a game against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson was the NHL’s leading vote-getter in All-Star voting, receiving 939,951 fan votes and becoming one of four Senators’ players selected to partake in the 59th National Hockey League All-Star Game. Karlsson finished the season as the leading scorer among NHL defensemen, leading second place Dustin Byfuglien and Brian Campbell by 25 points. Karlsson was being mentioned as a Norris Trophy candidate, if not the favorite for the award.
On June 19th 2012, Karlsson signed a seven-year contract extension with the Senators worth a reported $45.5 million dollars.
On June 20th 2012, Karlsson was announced as the winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman, beating Zdeno Chára of the Boston Bruins and Shea Weber of theNashville Predators.
|Competitor for Sweden|
|Men’s ice hockey|
|World Junior Championships|
Karlsson was selected as the tournament’s best defenceman at the 2008 IIHF World U18 Championships. He was the tournament’s plus/minus leader with a plus eight rating, and he led team Sweden in assists, finishing third overall in the tournament, with seven in six games, which also tied him for first place in defencemen scoring. During the 2008 U20 4-Nations tournament which Sweden won, Karlsson scored one goal and one assist which tied him with David Rundblad, Viktor Ekbom, and Tim Erixon as Sweden’s defenceman scoring leader. At the 2009 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships Karlsson was selected to the all-star team, and as the tournament’s best defenceman. With two goals and seven assists in six games he led all Swedish players in points, and was tied for the tournament lead among defencemen.
Karlsson tied for 4th in team scoring with Senators teammate Daniel Alfredsson at the 2012 World Championship with 7 points and led all Swedish defensemen in that category. He also finished tied for 5th in points and tied 3rd in goals by defensemen overall in the tournament.
Karlsson is engaged to his girlfriend, Therese, and their wedding is set for July 6th, 2012, in Sweden.
Regular season and playoffs
|2008||Sweden Jr.||WJC U18||6||0||7||7||4|
|Junior int’l totals||35||6||22||28||4|
|Senior int’l totals||18||4||7||11||4|
|WJC U18 Best Defenceman||2008|
|WJC All-Star Team||2009|
|WJC Best Defenceman||2009|
|NHL All-Star Game||2011, 2012|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy||2012|
|NHL First All-Star Team||2012|
Records and Achievements
- Played his first NHL Regular Season game on October 3rd, 2009 against the New York Rangers, and also recorded his first NHL point, an assist
- Scored his first NHL goal on December 19th, 2009 against the Minnesota Wild
- Awarded the 2011–12 James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman June 20th, 2012.