Player Profile: Erik Karlsson

Erik Karlsson, D, Contract: 1.3/12 (RFA) Drafted 1-15/08 (Murray)
5’11, Shoots R, YOB 1990, Lannaskede, Swe
2008-09 SEL Frolunda 45-5-5-10 (ppg 0.22) +3 10pim
2009-10  NHL Ottawa 60-5-21-26 (ppg 0.43) -5 24pim TOI 20:06
2009-10 AHL Binghamton 12-0-11-11 (ppg 0.91) Even 22pim
2010-11 NHL Ottawa 75-13-32-45 (ppg 0.60) -30 50pim TOI 23:30
2011-12 NHL Ottawa 81-19-59-78 (ppg 0.96) +16 42pim TOI 25:19

The 2008 NHL Entry Draft was the first real draft for Bryan Murray.  He was the GM for the 2007 picks, but all the scouting work was done under John Muckler’s regime who was fired just beforehand.  The Senators had the 18th overall pick, but Anders Forsberg and Tim Murray were high on Erik Karlsson, so the Sens made a trade with Nashville to grab him with the 15th overall pick (the Preds received picks they used to select with Chet Pickard, who is now in Sweden, and Taylor Beck, who just completed his rookie season in the AHL).

As expected Karlsson needed another year of seasoning before coming to the NHL, so he spent one more year with Frolunda.  Karlsson‘s expectations for himself were much more moderate than those among the fanbase, but he made the team out of training camp, leading to Jared Cowen being returned to the WHL and Christoph Schubert being put on re-entry waivers (claimed by Atlanta).  Karlsson was demoted to Binghamton in late October and stayed there for a month.  Recalled at the end of November, he spent the rest of the season in the NHL.  Other than hurting his shoulder trying to throw an open-ice hit on Ryan Kesler in February, Karlsson enjoyed a strong rookie season including a great playoff against Pittsburgh (6-1-5-6).

The following season expectations for Karlsson were high.  There was no question that Cory Clouton was going to play him a ton.  For awhile he actually lead the team in scoring, although questions remained about his defensive play.  At season’s end he was first on the team in powerplay points (one ahead of Sergei Gonchar, who played fewer games), second in overall points, and just lost out to Chris Phillips for the team lead in the minus category (he also played in the NHL all-star game).

Karlsson‘s meteoric development took a leap forward under Paul MacLean.  A Norris Trophy winning season, he finished second on the team in points (again, being well ahead of my 50 projected points, just outside the top-ten in NHL scoring, and the most by a blueliner since Niklas Lidstrom in 05-06), tied for the second best plus/minus on the team (behind Filip Kuba), and was the engine for the team’s explosive offense.  Assuming the new CBA doesn’t include a new crackdown on obstruction and increased powerplays, I think Karlsson‘s production will slip, particularly as there’s no one other than an aging Gonchar for team’s to target on the Sens blueline; somewhere in the 55-60 range would be reasonable.

Here’s every point Karlsson accumulated this year; a great defensive play; and his brief Norris Trophy speech