Ice Hockey Wiki
Erik Karlsson
Born (1990-05-31)31 May 1990,
Landsbro, Sweden
6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
191 lb (87 kg; 13 st 9 lb)
Position Defense
Shoots Right
NHL team
F. teams
Ottawa Senators
Frölunda HC
Ntl. team Flag of Sweden.png Sweden
NHL Draft 15th overall, 2008
Ottawa Senators
Playing career 2008–present

Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson (born 31 May 1990) is a Swedish professional ice hockey player who serves as captain of the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL). Karlsson was drafted in the first round, 15th overall, by the Senators at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Karlsson 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 career

Karlsson made his Elitserien debut for Frölunda HC on 1 March 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 playing for Jokerit during the 2012-13 NHL lockout.

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.

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 29 September 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 27 November 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 19 December 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 30 January 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 16 December 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 19 June 2012, Karlsson signed a seven-year contract extension with the Senators worth a reported $45.5 million.[9] The following day, 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 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.[10]

Following surgery just three months earlier to replace 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 8 December 2012.[11] 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.[12] On 13 February 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,[13] requiring surgery and taking him out of Ottawa's lineup indefinitely.[14] 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.[15][16][17] 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 25 April 2013, ten weeks to the day after the injury occurred.[18] The Senators made the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs but were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinal, with Karlsson registering one goal and seven assists in 10 games.[19]

Karlsson appeared in all 82 games during the 2013–14 season and finished the season with 20 goals and 74 points, resulting in Karlsson being the first defenseman since Brian Leetch in the 2000–01 season to have at least 20 goals and 50 assists in the same season.[20] However, the Senators would fail to qualify for the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Captain of the Senators

On 2 October 2014 the Senators organization announced that Karlsson would serve as the ninth captain in the team's modern history, replacing the recently traded Jason Spezza.[21] In his first season as team captain, Karlsson 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.[22] On 24 June 2015, it was announced Karlsson won his second Norris Trophy, beating out fellow nominees Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban.[23]

Karlsson 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 alongside San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton.[24] With his 81st point, Karlsson 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.[25] Karlsson 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.[26] Karlsson's performance earned him his third Norris Trophy nomination, though Drew Doughty won the trophy with Karlsson finishing in second place in vote totals.[27]

During the 2016-17 season, Karlsson set a team record on 4 March 2017 when he appeared in his 312th consecutive game, breaking the previous set by fellow defenceman Chris Phillips.[28] However, he would miss his first game in almost four years in late March 2017 after sustaining an injury from blocking a shot during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers, ending his consecutive game streak at 324 games.[29] Karlsson finished the regular season in third place among defencemen in points and second place among defencemen in assists and blocked shots, resulting in his fourth Norris Trophy nomination.[30]

Style of play

Karlsson's performance has been widely acclaimed by former ice hockey players, head coaches, and the media. He is well known for his speed, such as his ability to lead a rush and be the first man to return to defend, and for making plays.[31][32][33] In 2012, Bobby Orr praised Karlsson for his fast skating and performance, comparing him to former defencemen such as Larry Robinson and Paul Coffey, while Coffey himself praised Karlsson as an "elite player" and one of the best players in the NHL.[34][35] Head coach Guy Boucher praised Karlsson as "one of the greats" in the NHL, while head coach Ken Hitchcock praised Karlsson for his skating skill and reading of plays, saying that he is "ahead of the curve everywhere."[36][37]

International play

Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Competitor for Flag of 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.[38] He was the tournament's plus/minus leader with a plus eight rating,[39] and he led team Sweden in assists, finishing third overall in the tournament, with seven in six games,[40] which also tied him for first place in defencemen scoring.[41] 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. At the 2009 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, Karlsson was selected to the all-star team,[42] and as the tournament's best defenceman.[43] With two goals and seven assists in six games he led all Swedish players in points,[44] and was tied for the tournament lead among defencemen.[45]

Karlsson played at the 2010 World Championships and was the highest scoring defenseman for Sweden[46] 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.[47] He also finished tied for fifth in points and tied third in goals by defensemen overall in the tournament.[48]

At the 2014 Olympic Tournament held in Sochi, Karlsson led all players with eight points and was tied for second in goals. On 21 February 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.[49]

Karlsson declined an invitation to play for Sweden at the 2015 World Championship due to an undisclosed injury.[50]

On 1 March 2016 Karlsson was announced to represent Sweden at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.[51]

Personal life

Karlsson married Therese, his girlfriend of three years, on 7 July 2012 in Sweden, though they divorced a year later. He is now engaged to Ottawa native, Melinda Currey.[52][53] His childhood idols included Nicklas Lidström, Daniel Alfredsson, Mats Sundin, and Peter Forsberg.[54]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    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
2014–15 Ottawa Senators NHL 82 21 45 66 42 6 1 3 4 2
2015–16 Ottawa Senators NHL 82 16 66 82 50
2016-17 Ottawa Senators NHL 77 17 54 71 28
NHL totals 556 117 339 456 280 29 4 15 19 16


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



Award Year(s) awarded
WJC U18 Best Defenceman 2008[38]
WJC All-Star Team 2009[42]
WJC Best Defenceman 2009[43]
Olympic All-Star Team 2014[49]
Olympic Best Defenceman 2014[49]


Award Year(s) awarded
NHL All-Star Game 2011, 2012, 2016
James Norris Memorial Trophy 2012, 2015
NHL First All-Star Team 2012, 2015, 2016
Viking Award 2012, 2016

Records and achievements


  • Drafted 15th overall in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators.
  • Played his first NHL regular season game on 3 October 2009, against the New York Rangers, and also recorded his first NHL point, an assist.
  • Scored his first NHL goal on 19 December 2009, against Niklas Bäckström of the Minnesota Wild.
  • 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.
  • Named the IIHF Best Defenceman at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.


  • In 2011–12, Karlsson set a new Senators' franchise record for points in a season by a defenceman (previously held by Norm Maciver) with 78. In 2013–14, he passed Steve Duchesne for the Senators franchise record for most goals in a season by a defenseman with 20. In 2015-2016, he once again set a new Senators record for points by a defenceman in a single season with 82, surpassing his previous record at 78.


  1. European Skaters. National Hockey League (2008). Retrieved on 2008-09-03.
  2. Gyllander, Peter (2008-08-25). #65 Erik Karlsson till A-truppen (Swedish). Frölunda HC. Retrieved on 2008-09-04.
  3. Battle just beginning for new Sens. (2009-01-08). Retrieved on 2009-01-09.
  4. Brodie, Rob (2011-01-11). Karlsson eager to shine with NHL's brightest stars. Ottawa Senators. Retrieved on 2011-01-12.
  5. Nordström, Gunnar (2011-12-17). Sex poäng av Ottawas svenskduo - NHL - Allt om NHL, svenskarna och stjärnorna! (Swedish). Expressen. Retrieved on 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's journey to royalty. Ottawa Sun (2014-10-02). Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  11. Erik Karlsson suspended 1 game for 'throwing' stick at refs
  13. Erik Karlsson needs surgery after skate cuts Achilles
  14. Did You See That? Erik Karlsson's devastating injury
  15. Senators fall to Penguins, lose Erik Karlsson indefinitely
  16. Penguins’ Matt Cooke suspended for rest of season
  17. Erik Karlsson needs Achilles surgery
  19. Erik Karlsson. Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  20. Over the Boards: Boudreau reflects on historic rally. (2014-04-02). Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  21. Sens name Erik Karlsson captain
  22. Norris Trophy: P.K. Subban, Erik Karlsson among finalists (English). CBC Sports (2015-04-27). Retrieved on 2015-05-10.
  23. Senators' Karlsson wins second Norris Trophy (2015-06-24). Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  24. 2015-2016 Statistics. Retrieved on 2017-03-05.
  25. Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson gets Norris nod from Denis Potvin. Ottawa Sun (2016-04-07). Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  26. Erik Karlsson on track to reach several exclusive NHL marks. CBC (2016-04-01). Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  27. Drew Doughty wins Norris Trophy. (2016-06-22). Retrieved on 2017-03-05.
  28. Ironman Karlsson steps onto the ice for a team-record 312th straight game. Ottawa Citizen (2017-03-04). Retrieved on 2017-03-05.
  29. Karlsson sits this one out, ending his ironman streak at 324 games. Ottawa Citizen (2017-03-30). Retrieved on 2017-04-01.
  30. Two-time winner Erik Karlsson among Norris Trophy finalists. (2017-04-21). Retrieved on 2017-04-22.
  31. Hagerman, Carl (2016-11-27). 5 fastest skaters in the NHL. Retrieved on 2017-04-22.
  32. Warren, Ken (2017-04-21). ‘Superhuman’ Erik Karlsson makes big plays at big times, drags Ottawa Senators to verge of second round. National Post. Retrieved on 2017-04-22.
  33. {{cite web |url= |title=Erik Karlsson playing on new level for Senators |publisher=The Star |date=2017-03-22 |accessdate=2017-04-22 |author=Siegel, Jonas
  34. Garrioch, Bruce (2012-03-17). Bobby Orr a big Karlsson booster. Ottawa Sun.
  35. Garrioch, Bruce (2017-03-17). Senators' Erik Karlsson has Paul Coffey in his corner. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved on 2017-04-22.
  36. Warren, Ken (2017-03-05). Senators coach Guy Boucher can’t stop heaping praise on Erik Karlsson. Ottawa Sun. Retrieved on 2017-04-22.
  37. Garrioch, Bruce (2017-01-17). Hitchcock sings the praises of Karlsson's ability as an 'offenceman'. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved on 2017-04-22.
  38. 38.0 38.1 BEST PLAYERS SELECTED BY THE DIRECTORATE (PDF). IIHF (2008-04-23). Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  39. PLUS-MINUS LEADERS (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation (2008-04-23). Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  40. ASSIST LEADERS (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation (2008-04-23). Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  41. DEFENSEMEN SCORING LEADERS (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation (2008-04-23). Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  42. 42.0 42.1 MEDIA ALL STARS (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation (2009-01-06). Retrieved on 2009-01-06.
  43. 43.0 43.1 BEST PLAYERS SELECTED BY THE DIRECTORATE (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation (2009-01-06). Retrieved on 2009-01-06.
  44. PLAYER STATISTICS BY TEAM (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation (2009-01-06). Retrieved on 2009-01-06.
  45. DEFENSEMEN SCORING LEADERS (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation (2009-01-06). Retrieved on 2009-01-06.
  46. IIHF World Championship Defensemen Scoring Leaders. (23 May 2010).
  49. 49.0 49.1 49.2 Selanne MVP, Awards for Price, Karlsson, Kessel. (23 February 2014).
  50. Gold-Smith, Josh (2015-04-28). Senators' Karlsson, Zibanejad decline World Championship invites due to injuries. Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  51. Garrioch, Bruce (2016-03-02). Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson excited to play for Sweden at World Cup. Ottawa Sun. Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  52. Proudfoot, Shannon (2013-05-29). Erik Karlsson: If looks could thrill. Sportsnet. Retrieved on 2015-05-19.
  53. Karlsson Speaks Candidly to Aftonbladet: Divorce, Loss of Friends/Teammates in 2013. The 6th Sens (2014-03-23). Retrieved on 2016-04-10.
  54. Brodie, Rob (2010-11-03). Getting to know ... Erik Karlsson. Ottawa Senators. Retrieved on 2016-04-10.

External links

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