Erik Karlsson

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For the Swedish ice hockey player born in 1994, see Erik Karlsson (ice hockey, born 1994).
Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson 2011-11-25.JPG
Karlsson in November 2011.
Born (1990-05-31) May 31, 1990 (age 24)
Landsbro, Småland, Sweden
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shoots Right
NHL team
Former teams
Ottawa Senators
Frölunda HC
National team  Sweden
NHL Draft 15th overall, 2008
Ottawa Senators
Playing career 2008–present

Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson (born May 31, 1990) is a Swedish professional ice hockey player who currently serves as captain of the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected by the Senators in the first round (15th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Karlsson was the 2012 winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman.

Playing career[edit]

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 in overtime during a man advantage. The win secured a playoff berth for Frölunda with three games remaining in 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 games to one, against Brynäs IF in the Swedish Junior Ice Hockey Championship final.

Karlsson playing for Jokerit during the 2012–13 NHL lockout.

Prior to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Karlsson was ranked fourth among European skaters by the NHL's Central Scouting Service.[1] 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.

A few weeks before the 2008–09 Elitserien season premiere, Frölunda announced that Karlsson was brought up to the senior team as a regular-roster player.[2]

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.[3] 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 the Minnesota Wild's Niklas Bäckström in a 4–1 win for Ottawa on December 19, 2009, and remain in the NHL for the remainder of the season and play in all of Ottawa's playoff games.

Karlsson was selected to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, set for January 30, 2011, at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina,[4] having recorded 25 points in 41 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.[5] Karlsson was the NHL's leading vote-getter in All-Star voting,[6] 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.[7][8]

On June 19, 2012, Karlsson signed a seven-year contract extension with the Senators worth a reported $45.5 million.[9]

On June 20, 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 the Nashville Predators. He became the second Swede to win the award (after seven-time winner Nicklas Lidström), joining the ranks of Hall of Famers Bobby Orr and Denis Potvin as the only players to win the award under the age of 23.

Following surgery just three months earlier to repair a lacerated Achilles tendon, Karlsson logged nearly 40 minutes in a 2–1 double overtime win over the Penguins in Game 3 of their second round series.

During the 2012–13 NHL lockout, Karlsson signed with Jokerit of the Finnish SM-liiga. He received a one-game suspension for allegedly throwing his stick at a referee following a game on December 8, 2012.[10] He finished his stint in Jokerit with nine goals and 25 assists (34 points) in 30 games, leading all defencemen in scoring. Once the lockout ended and the NHL season commenced, Karlsson promptly recorded a goal and two assists as Ottawa defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4–1 in their season opener.[11] On February 13, 2013, Karlsson's Achilles tendon was lacerated when Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke had his skate land on the back of Karlsson's left leg,[12] requiring surgery and taking him out of Ottawa's lineup indefinitely.[13] Cooke has been suspended several times in the past for much-criticized incidents resulting in injury to opposing players, but was not suspended for this incident.[14][15][16] At the time of the injury, Karlsson led all NHL defencemen with six goals. Though initial estimates had him out of the lineup for four-to-six months, Karlsson returned to the Ottawa lineup against the Washington Capitals on April 25, 2013, ten weeks to the day after the injury occurred.[17]

On October 2, 2014, the Senators announced that Karlsson would serve as the ninth captain in the team's modern history, replacing the recently traded Jason Spezza.[18]

International play[edit]

Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Competitor for Sweden Sweden
Winter Olympics
Silver 2014 Sochi
World Championships
Bronze 2010 Cologne
World Junior Championships
Silver 2009 Ottawa

Karlsson was selected as the tournament's best defenceman at the 2008 IIHF World U18 Championships.[19] He was the tournament's plus/minus leader with a plus eight rating,[20] and he led team Sweden in assists, finishing third overall in the tournament, with seven in six games,[21] which also tied him for first place in defencemen scoring.[22] 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.[23] At the 2009 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, Karlsson was selected to the all-star team,[24] and as the tournament's best defenceman.[25] With two goals and seven assists in six games he led all Swedish players in points,[26] and was tied for the tournament lead among defencemen.[27]

Karlsson played at the 2010 World Championships and was the highest scoring defenseman for Sweden[28] with one goal and three assists in nine games.

Karlsson tied for fourth in team scoring with Senators teammate Daniel Alfredsson at the 2012 World Championship with seven points and led all Swedish defensemen in that category.[29] He also finished tied for fifth in points and tied third in goals by defensemen overall in the tournament.[30]

At the 2014 Olympic Tournament held in Sochi, Karlsson led all players with eight points and was tied for second in goals. On February 21, 2014, Karlsson's scored a powerplay goal in the semi-final against Finland to earn Team Sweden a spot in the Gold Medal Final against Canada. The Swedes would later lose in the final by a score of 3–0. Along with a silver medal, Karlsson was named the Best Defenseman of the tournament and was selected to the All-Star team.[31]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2006–07 Södertälje SK J20 10 2 8 10 8
2007–08 Frölunda HC J20 38 13 24 37 68 5 1 0 1 4
2007–08 Frölunda HC SHL 7 1 0 1 0 6 0 0 0 0
2008–09 Frölunda HC J20 1 0 2 2 2
2008–09 Borås HC Allsv 7 0 1 1 14
2008–09 Frölunda HC SHL 45 5 5 10 10 11 1 2 3 24
2009–10 Binghamton Senators AHL 12 0 11 11 22
2009–10 Ottawa Senators NHL 60 5 21 26 24 6 1 5 6 4
2010–11 Ottawa Senators NHL 75 13 32 45 50
2011–12 Ottawa Senators NHL 81 19 59 78 42 7 1 0 1 4
2012–13 Jokerit SM-l 30 9 25 34 24
2012–13 Ottawa Senators NHL 17 6 8 14 8 10 1 7 8 6
2013–14 Ottawa Senators NHL 82 20 54 74 36
NHL totals 315 63 174 237 160 23 3 12 15 14


Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2008 Sweden Jr. WJC18 4th 6 0 7 7 4
2009 Sweden Jr. WJC 2nd 6 2 7 9 0
2010 Sweden WC 3rd 9 1 3 4 2
2012 Sweden WC 6th 8 3 4 7 2
2014 Sweden Oly 2nd 6 4 4 8 0
Junior totals 35 6 22 28 4
Senior totals 24 8 11 19 4

Style of play[edit]

Bobby Orr has commented that Karlsson is a fast skater, and that Karlsson's coach needs to let him play to his strengths to be effective, seeing similarities to Paul Coffey;[32]

"I want to say one thing about the coach and whoever is allowing him to do this and I've been saying this forever: You get a guy who can skate like that, let him go, for god's sakes.

He'll get caught. I got caught. The players understand how he plays. They accept it. He's fast enough to get back a lot of times. You have kids coming along where [the coach says] shoot the puck up the glass and shoot it in.

The coach is letting [Karlsson] do it and since they've allowed him to do it, this kid has been unbelievable. But, let him do it. That's how he is most effective. Is he gonna make mistakes? Yup. Is he gonna get caught? Yup. But the pluses are going to outweigh the minuses.

There are probably some coaches who wouldn't let him go like he does. They let me go. They let Coffey go. I couldn’t imagine playing any other way and I can’t imagine young Erik playing any other way, either."

HHOF defenceman Bobby Orr[32]



Award Year(s) awarded
WJC U18 Best Defenceman 2008[19]
WJC All-Star Team 2009[24]
WJC Best Defenceman 2009[25]
Olympic All-Star Team 2014[31]
Olympic Best Defenceman 2014[31]


Award Year(s) awarded
NHL All-Star Game 2011, 2012
James Norris Memorial Trophy 2012
NHL First All-Star Team 2012
Viking Award 2012

Records and achievements[edit]


  • Drafted 15th overall in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators.
  • Played his first NHL regular season game on October 3, 2009, against the New York Rangers, and also recorded his first NHL point, an assist.
  • Scored his first NHL goal on December 19, 2009, against Niklas Bäckström of the Minnesota Wild.
  • Awarded the 2011–12 James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman on June 20, 2012.
  • Silver medal at 2014 Sochi Olympics.
  • Led all defencemen at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in points, tied for first among the tournament with Phil Kessel.



  1. ^ "European Skaters". National Hockey League. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  2. ^ Gyllander, Peter (2008-08-25). "#65 Erik Karlsson till A-truppen" (in Swedish). Frölunda HC. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  3. ^ "Battle just beginning for new Sens". 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  4. ^ Brodie, Rob (2011-01-11). "Karlsson eager to shine with NHL's brightest stars". Ottawa Senators. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  5. ^ Nordström, Gunnar (2011-12-17). "Sex poäng av Ottawas svenskduo - NHL - Allt om NHL, svenskarna och stjärnorna!". Expressen (in Swedish). Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  6. ^ Fans vote in four Senators All-Stars
  7. ^ Pang gets Sens fans all a Twitter
  8. ^ Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, Norris Trophy favorite
  10. ^ Erik Karlsson suspended 1 game for 'throwing' stick at refs
  12. ^ Erik Karlsson needs surgery after skate cuts Achilles
  13. ^ Did You See That? Erik Karlsson's devastating injury
  14. ^ Senators fall to Penguins, lose Erik Karlsson indefinitely
  15. ^ Penguins’ Matt Cooke suspended for rest of season
  16. ^ Erik Karlsson needs Achilles surgery
  18. ^ Sens name Erik Karlsson captain
  19. ^ a b "BEST PLAYERS SELECTED BY THE DIRECTORATE" (PDF). IIHF. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  20. ^ "PLUS-MINUS LEADERS" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  21. ^ "ASSIST LEADERS" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  22. ^ "DEFENSEMEN SCORING LEADERS" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  23. ^ "Players By Team" (PDF). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. 2008-11-09. Retrieved 2008-11-10. [dead link]
  24. ^ a b "MEDIA ALL STARS" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  25. ^ a b "BEST PLAYERS SELECTED BY THE DIRECTORATE" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  26. ^ "PLAYER STATISTICS BY TEAM" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  27. ^ "DEFENSEMEN SCORING LEADERS" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  28. ^ "IIHF World Championship Defensemen Scoring Leaders". 23 May 2010. 
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b c "Selanne MVP, Awards for Price, Karlsson, Kessel". 23 February 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Garrioch, Bruce (2012-03-17). "Bobby Orr a big Karlsson booster". Ottawa Sun. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Daniel Sedin
Winner of the Viking Award
Succeeded by
Henrik Zetterberg
Preceded by
Nicklas Lidström
Winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy
Succeeded by
P. K. Subban
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jim O'Brien
Ottawa Senators first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Jared Cowen
Preceded by
Jason Spezza
Ottawa Senators captain