Over the years, the Senators have had many great players play for them in Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Marian Hossa, Alexei Yashin, Dany Heatley and a handful of others. But only one of them could legitimately be considered the best player at his position and one of the best in the game: Erik Karlsson. Depending on your thoughts on the Calder Trophy, Karlsson is the only player to have ever won a major individual trophy, twice winning the Norris Trophy.
In addition to the Norris Trophies, Karlsson has been named on the season ending first all-star team three times in the last five years. Dany Heatley in the 2006-2007 was the only other Senator to achieve that feat. Since returning from his Achilles injury, Karlsson has led the Ottawa Senators in points for three consecutive years. As a comparison, Bobby Orr only twice led the Bruins in scoring.
In the era since Erik Karlsson became an elite player in 2011-2012, he has 78 more points than any other defenceman in the NHL, with the difference between first and second being as large as the difference between second and 24th. Over the same time period, he has 108 points more than any Ottawa Senator player. Karlsson has 330 points in 364 games in that period while the Senators have had 22 other defencemen play a combined 2023 games for 488 points.
Even this year, with Karlsson off to a relatively slow start with 16 points in 20 games. He has one more point than the 15 points by every other Senators defenceman combined this year. He also has a four-point lead over Kyle Turris and on course to lead the team in scoring for the fourth straight year. With the Senators scoring just 44 times this season, Karlsson has a point on 36% of Ottawa's goals. Brent Burns has a point on 40% of San Jose's goals, but no other defenceman has a point on more 26% of their team's goals.
Karlsson has never been surrounded by a great team and the Swedish national team is the only time that he has played on an above average team. He is unlikely to win championships any time soon, but on many nights for the last several years, he has been the only reason to watch this team. Senators fans should cherish this player who is easily the greatest in team history.