Erik Karlsson: Does He Have the Norris Trophy Wrapped Up?

Keegan McNallyCorrespondent IIFebruary 26, 2012

TORONTO, CANADA - JANUARY 17:  Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 17, 2012 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Unless you've been too busy focusing on the upcoming trade deadline, you have to know about the recent third-year phenom defenseman, Erik Karlsson.

Over the past couple of months, Karlsson has been increasing his point total on nearly a nightly basis for the Ottawa Senators

He's made the struggling Senators into a legitimate playoff team, making his longtime Senator teammates Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza better in the process. 

Currently, Karlsson is on a seven-game point streak, racking up six goals, 11 assists and 17 points.

Overall, he leads all defensemen in scoring by a whopping 24 points with his 65-point performance this season. Brian Campbell is a distant second with 41 points. 

So, does Karlsson have the Norris Trophy all but wrapped up?

Not so fast. 

In the past, the Norris Trophy has steered away from purely offensive defensemen and has been awarded to two-way, point-producing stalwarts like Nicklas Lidstrom and Zdeno Chara. 

Shea Weber is a major player in the Norris discussion as well this season. He has led the Predators yet again into playoff position by notching 14 goals and a plus-17 rating. Amazingly, eight of his goals have come on the power play, making Weber one of the true power-play quarterbacks on defense in the league today.

However, using Duncan Keith's Norris Trophy winning season in 2009-10 as a template, it appears as if Karlsson has a pretty good shot at winning the Norris.

Keith had a breakout year in Chicago in 2009-10, registering 69 points in 82 games. Even though it can be argued that Keith is better defensively than Karlsson, you can't ignore that his offensive numbers are what really landed him his first and only Norris so far. 

When compared to what Karlsson is doing to the league right now, Keith's numbers almost look silly. If Karlsson keeps on his current pace, he'll finish the season with a plus-19 rating, 65 assists and an incredible 83 points in 81 games. 

A point per game or better performance by a Norris Trophy winning defenseman hasn't been seen since Lidstrom won his fourth in 2005-06. 

In the end, if Karlsson can keep up his current blistering pace, it will be hard for anyone to not vote him first in the Norris ballot.

Even though giving a purely offensive defenseman the Norris Trophy may be a bitter pill to swallow for some, it is the correct choice in this situation.