Erik Karlsson Wins Norris as Best Defenseman
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Overwhelmed and humbled.
After winning the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators had difficulty to grasp nearly every word. Repeating several times “this is a special moment,” Karlsson capped two days of achievements with this often used but clearly necessary phrase.
On Tuesday, the 22-year-old native of Landsbro, Sweden inked a seven-year deal for a reported $6.5 million per year. On the next day, he collected the first Norris Trophy awarded to a member of the Ottawa Senators.
Karlsson’s award broke a near-stranglehold for the recently retired Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit on the Norris. Since his first Norris in 2001, only three others captured the award than Lidstrom from that time.
Given his age and contribution to the Senators playoff run, Karlsson can be expected to carry much of the load at the blue line.
“After this, I want to go back and continue to work on my game,” he said. “This is a great honor and I would like to be up there for many years to come.”
Karlsson, who topped all NHL defenseman in scoring, also came in with a plus-16 rating. At 6'0", 170 pounds, he averaged 25 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time in anchoring the Ottawa defense.
“I’ve never been part of an honor this big,” he added. “You never know when you might get here again, and, right now, I just wanted to get better and work on every aspect of my game.”
Shea Weber of Nashville (1,057) finished second in a close balloting to Karlsson‘s 10.69 votes.
In the process, Karlsson became the youngest defenseman to score as many as 78 points in a season—since the Oilers‘ Paul Coffey (96) with Edmonton during the 1982-83 season.
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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