Erik Karlsson is having a fantastic season with the Ottawa Senators and has proven himself the clear choise to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman.
At least in the NHL, there is a Senator deserving of public accolades
It is getting difficult to have a conversation about the Norris Trophy - which goes to the NHL's best defenceman - without mentioning the exploits of Erik Karlsson, the Ottawa Senators blue-liner.
Last year, Karlsson was a 20 year old in his second season on an awful team. He was picked to be Ottawa's representative at the 2011 All-Star Game basically because the team didn't have anyone who rated an invitation (Daniel Alfredsson, their captain, and Jason Spezza were out with injuries).
Karlsson went to the mid-season classic, had a good time, then returned to the reality of Ottawa's off-the-rails season. He ended up minus-30, one of the worst plus-minus marks in the league.
But what a difference a year makes. Karlsson has been a star since the first day this season, and the Senators have undergone an astounding turnaround that should see them make the play-offs. This year, Karlsson attended the All-Star Game because he truly deserved to be there - and it was in Ottawa, too, making for a memorable experience.
And how's this for a Norris argument: Karlsson had 60 points in 61 games while no other NHL defenceman had more than 40 points. Or this: he had more assists (47) than any other defender had points while also being tied for the lead in goals (13).
Karlsson's not a shutdown defenceman in the Larry Robinson mould, but his game is all about mobility - moving from defence to offence and running the power play. And he's got few NHL equals in that regard.