Player Spotlight: Erik Karlsson
(Editor's note: As the 2012-13 season draws closer, ottawasenators.com will take a daily snapshot look at some of the returning players from last year, with both a look back and a look ahead).
2011-12 stats: 81 GP, 19 G, 59 A, 78 PTS, 42 PIM, +16 rating
Last season: What didn't Karlsson accomplish in 2011-12? In a season for the ages, the young Swede led all NHL blueliners in scoring by a whopping 25 points and finished 11th overall in NHL scoring. His assist and point totals established new modern franchise records in both categories. Showing improved proficiency on the other side of the puck, the third-year Senator boosted his plus-minus rating to +16 and led the league in takeaways. But it's his dynamic offensive talents that made Karlsson a perfect fit for the more aggressive, puck-possession style favoured by new head coach Paul MacLean.
The highlight: In a season filled with big moments, the largest of them all occurred on June 20 in Las Vegas, when Karlsson became the first Senators player to win the James Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman. Among the finalists for the award was Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, the only previous blueliner to earn a Norris nomination in an Ottawa jersey.
Looking forward: As Karlsson starts into a new seven-year contract, the biggest question heading into the season ahead is a rather simple one: How much better can Karlsson get? A Norris winner at age 21, Karlsson figures to see more of the attention the New York Rangers directed his way during the teams' Eastern Conference quarter-final series last spring. But there is no doubt the Senators see him as one of the cornerstones of their blue line for years to come and he'll be counted upon heavily once again in 2012-13.
Quote: "I appreciate everything they've done for me in my three years that I've been here. They made me a better hockey player than I thought I would be by now and I have all the thanks in the world to (give to) Ottawa's organization for letting me do what I'm good at and developing in the way that I think is best."