The NHL off-season is long, but around late June, hockey fans are treated to a plethora of news. The speculation, the trades, the signings, and of course.. the NHL awards.
With the Vegas NHL Awards just three days away, the Senators have three players nominated for individual honours. Mark Stone, who was a huge piece to the Senators’ late success is up for the Calder, Andrew Hammond is up for the Bill Masterton Trophy and of course, smooth-skating Erik Karlsson is up for the Norris.
Karlsson, who was drafted 7 years ago today has been the Senators’ MVP for the last few seasons and already has one Norris Trophy under his belt.
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He’s up against some stiff competition in P.K. Subban and Drew Doughty as Doughty seeks his first Norris and Subban his second. If Karlsson is however able to earn another Norris trophy, he’ll certainly be among the NHL’s elite.
Among Elite Company
The Norris trophy has been awarded 60 times since 1954, but to just 24 players in those 60 years. Among the winners, Erik Karlsson is close to the youngest as he took the award for the first time as a 21-year-old. Only Bobby Orr was a younger recipient of the award.
In terms of players who have won the award twice, just 12 have been able to do so. Among that list is Larry Robinson (2), Brian Leetch (2), Paul Coffey (3), and Chris Chelios (3). If Karlsson is able to join that group, he’ll do it as a 25-year-old hockey player, the only other players to have done so are Bobby Orr and Denis Potvin.
Orr is nearly in a group of his own as he won 8 consecutive Norris awards and finished his career with 8 honours, retiring as a 31-year-old. Close to him are Nicklas Lidstrom and Doug Harvey, two legends in their own right.
Mar 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot (3) talks to defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Senators 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
While the repeat for Karlsson may come as a bit of a surprise, the odds of doing so could be in Karlsson’s favour. Karlsson heads into Vegas looking like the favourite amongst fans and media to take home the trophy. The win would finalize quite the year for Karlsson, who after finally feeling healthy and stabilized with his d-partner, Marc Methot had an incredible second half.
It would also be a big step for Karlsson who as captain of the Ottawa Senators is expected to lead on and off the ice over the next coming years. He just turned 25 and is a few years away from what is considered the prime of his career, so if we haven’t seen that “prime” yet, who knows what is in store for Karlsson or the Senators.
In the immediate, the Sens should accept what they have in Karlsson (a perennial Norris contender) and continue to build around him. They have a few young forwards who are incredible to watch and a chance to continue the build this upcoming year. Of course, the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal for any hockey team and in Ottawa, they’ve got a guy who could lead them there in Erik Karlsson.