x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

At least in the NHL, there is a Senator deserving of public accolades

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.

Erik Karlsson, front, has come alive for the Ottawa Senators in his third NHL season.
Erik Karlsson, front, has come alive for the Ottawa Senators in his third NHL season.


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.