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Top Scoring Defenceman

Erik Karlsson has developed into a top defenceman with the Ottawa Senators.  He has 33 points in 37 games played.  This ranks him 26th overall in the overall league scoring race. 

Karlsson significantly leads the Sens in ice time.  He has played more than 200 minutes more than Jason Spezza, who is second on the team.  He plays against the toughest quality of opposition among all Senators defencemen.  He is usually used on the second unit penalty kill in Ottawa and hence is not among the team leaders in penalty kill ice time.  While Karlsson’s offence is a stronger part of his game than his defence, he is developing into a solid two-way defenceman.  His defence is not on the level of the top defencemen in the game (Weber, Chara, Lidstrom etc.) but there is hope that he may get there someday.  Karlsson has been the most important player to the Ottawa Senators so far this season.

This is Karlsson’s third NHL season.  He has been making significant strides in his game since he first arrived on the NHL scene.  It is tough to continue to improve year after year, but another year of improvement at this rate puts Karlsson among the best defencemen in the league.  He is already the top scoring defenceman this season and a very good offensive defender.  As a 2008 first round draft pick, Karlsson has a lot of potential.  He was playing regularly in the Swedish elite league at age 17. 

Erik Karlsson may or may not finish the season as the top scoring defenceman in the league.  He currently holds a three point lead over Brian Campbell of Florida for the scoring lead among defencemen this year.  He is probably the fastest improving player in the league.  He has become a legitimate all star player.  Likely the fans will vote him a starter in this year’s all star game.  That honor is more related to the game being played in Ottawa than his skill level.  However if he keeps improving at this rate, he may legitimately deserve such an honor in the future.

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Da lil Guy's avatar

Karlsson was a jaw dropping minus thirty last season. He seemed so small in his own end, easily pushed around by larger - or even medium - forwards, and often shied away from heavier contact in the corner.

The key change this year isn’t that he has become a better offensive player, but that he has found a way to be effective defensively. He’s not a lot bigger than he was, but he’s been able to be effective by compensating with his strong skating and a smart stick. He also hasn’t shied away from contact and has been willing to battle down low.

Don’t get me wrong - he’s not Zdeno Chara. But he has been able to show his coach he’s no longer a liability when playing against opponent’s top lines, and that’s allowed him to be used 25+ minutes a night.

For me, his coming out party was a road game against the Washington Capitals earlier in the season. It was a 2-1 Senators loss, but it might have been Karlsson’s best NHL game up to that point. He was matched against the Ovechkin line (and often against Ovechkin.) It was clearly the matchup Boudreau wanted, and rather than avoid it MacLean let it happen and Karlsson rose to the challenge. Although Ovechkin may not be his usual self this year, you could almost see the confidence it gave him. Karlsson has always been a confident kid on offense (he really seems to believe he can do anything) but with improved confidence in his own end, he goes from being a weapon that’s only available in some situations to being the backbone of his team.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 12/30/11 at 12:54 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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