Erik Karlsson (born May 31, 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.
Karlsson made his Elitserien debut for Frölunda HC on March 1, 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 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario. The selection was made by Ottawa’s captain Daniel Alfredsson, a native of Gothenburg, 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 September 29, 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 November 27, 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 December 19 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 December 16, 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 four Senators’ players selected to partake in the 59th National Hockey League All-Star Game. By mid-February, 2012, Karlsson was the league’s leading scorer among defensemen, as he had been for much of the season.
|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.
Erik Karlsson is engaged to his girlfriend, and they plan to be married in the 2012 off-season.