Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson.png
Born 31 May 1990 (1990-05-31) (age 29)
Landsbro, Sweden
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shoots Right
NHL team
Former teams
Ottawa Senators
Frölunda HC
National team Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden
NHL Draft 15th overall, 2008
Ottawa Senators
Playing career 2008–present

Erik Karlsson (born Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson on 31 May 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.

Erik is a two-time winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman, winning the award in 2012 and 2015.

Playing CareerEdit

On March 1, 2008, Erik made his Elitserien debut for Frölunda HC, recording 8:48 of ice time during a sold out home game in Scandinavium, against league leaders HV71.

He 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.

Erik 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.

Prior to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Erik 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 Erik before them.

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

In September of 2009, Erik 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 Erik had made the team's roster and would start the 2009–10 season in Ottawa. After struggling in nine regular season games with Ottawa, he was assigned to the Binghamton Senators.

On November 27, 2009 (exactly a month after being sent down), Erik was recalled from Binghamton. He would score his first NHL goal against the Minnesota Wild's Niklas Bäckstrom 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.

Erik was selected to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, set for 30 January 2011, at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, having recorded 25 points in 41 games.

The 2011–12 season saw Erik continue his development. On 16 December 2011, with his third assist of the night, he registered his 100th regular-season NHL point (in 168 games) in a game against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

Erik was the NHL's leading vote-getter in All-Star voting, receiving 939,951 fan votes and becoming one of four Senators players selected to partake in the 59th National Hockey League All-Star Game.

Erik finished the season as the leading scorer among NHL defensemen, leading second-place Dustin Byfuglien and Brian Campbell by 25 points. He was being mentioned as a Norris Trophy candidate, if not the favorite for the award.

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

The following day, he was announced as the winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman, beating Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.

Erik became the second Swede after seven-time winner Nicklas Lidström to win the award, 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.

During the 2012–13 NHL lockout, Erik 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. 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, Erik promptly recorded a goal and two assists as Ottawa defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4–1 in their season opener.

On February 13, 2013, Erik's Achilles tendon was lacerated when Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke had his skate land on the back of his left leg, requiring surgery and taking him out of Ottawa's lineup indefinitely. Cooke has been suspended several times in the past for much-criticized incidents resulting in injury to opposing players, but he was not suspended for this incident.

At the time of the injury, Erik led all NHL defencemen with six goals. Though initial estimates had him out of the lineup for four-to-six months, he returned to the Ottawa lineup against the Washington Capitals on April 25, 2013, ten weeks to the day after the injury occurred.

The Senators made the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs but were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinal with Erik registering one goal and seven assists in 10 games.

Erik appeared in all 82 games during the 2013–14 season and score then-career-high 20 goals, resulting in him becoming the first defenseman since Brian Leetch in the 2000–01 season to have at least 20 goals and 50 assists in the same season. However, the Senators would fail to qualify for the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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

In his first season as team captain, Erik led all NHL defencemen in points for the third time in four seasons, including a career-high 21 goals. He also played in all 82 of Ottawa's games for the second season in a row and ranked third in the NHL in total ice time (2,234:55) and average ice time (27:15) to carry the Senators to a 23-4-4 record on the way to an unlikely playoff spot.

On June 24, 2015, it was announced Erik won his second Norris Trophy, beating out fellow nominees Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban.

Erik appeared in all 82 games for the third straight season during the 2015–16 season and led the league in assists with a career high 66 assists and set a career high in points (82), finishing fourth in the league in scoring.

With his 81st point, he broke the record for most points in a single season by a Swedish defenceman, which was previously set by Nicklas Lidström during the 2005–06 season.

Erik was also the first defenceman since Paul Coffey in the 1985–86 season to finish in the top five in scoring and the first since Bobby Orr in the 1974–75 season to lead the league in assists.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

Bolded numbers indicate league leader.

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2006–07 Södertälje SK J20 1028108
2007–08 Frölunda HC J20 3813243768 51014
2007–08 Frölunda HC SHL 71010 60000
2008–09 Frölunda HC J20 10222
2008–09 Borås HC Allsv 701114
2008–09 Frölunda HC SHL 45551010 1112324
2009–10 Binghamton Senators AHL 120111122
2009–10 Ottawa Senators NHL 605212624 61564
2010–11 Ottawa Senators NHL 7513324550
2011–12 Ottawa Senators NHL 8119597842 7 1 0 1 4
2012–13 Ottawa Senators NHL 1768148 101786
2013–14 Ottawa Senators NHL 8220547436
2014–15 Ottawa Senators NHL 8221456642 6 1 3 4 2
2015–16 Ottawa Senators NHL 8216668250
NHL totals 479100285385252 294151916


Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2008 Sweden Jr. WJC18 4th 60774
2009 Sweden Jr. WJC Template:Sica 62790
2010 Sweden WC Template:Brca 91342
2012 Sweden WC 6th 83472
2014 Sweden Oly Template:Sica 64480
Junior totals 35622284
Senior totals 24811194

International PlayEdit

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

Erik 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 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, he 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, Erik 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 played at the 2010 World Championships and was the highest scoring defenseman for Sweden 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. He also finished tied for fifth in points and tied third in goals by defensemen overall in the tournament.

At the 2014 Olympic Tournament held in Sochi, Erik led all players with eight points and was tied for second in goals.

On February 21, 2014, he 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, he was named the Best Defenseman of the tournament and was selected to the All-Star team.

Erik declined an invitation to play for Sweden at the 2015 World Championship due to an undisclosed injury.

On March 1, 2016, Erik was chosen to represent Sweden at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Playing StyleEdit

Bobby Orr has commented that Erik is a fast skater and that his coach needs to let him play to his strengths to be effective, seeing similarities to Paul Coffey.

According to Orr:

"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."



Award Year(s) awarded
WJC U18 Best Defenceman 2008
WJC All-Star Team 2009
WJC Best Defenceman 2009
Olympic All-Star Team 2014
Olympic Best Defenceman 2014


Award Year(s) awarded
NHL All-Star Game

2011, 2012, 2016

James Norris Memorial Trophy 2012, 2015
NHL First All-Star Team 2012, 2015
Viking Award 2012

Personal LifeEdit

On July 7, 2012, Erik married his girlfriend of three years, Therese, but they divorced a year later.

His childhood idols included Nicklas Lidstrom, Daniel Alfredsson, Mats Sundin and Peter Forsberg.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.