During the Ottawa Senators’ exit interviews on Monday, Erik Karlsson said he wants to come back a better player next season.
After a season like Ottawa had, the exit interviews are about what you’d expect. With players cleaning out their lockers weeks before they had hoped they would be at the beginning of the year, it’s usually much of the same topic. “We need to be better.” “We’ll bounce back next year.” It’s fair to expect disappointment and hear the goals the team and individuals have to improve for next year.
However, those same echoes of the need to improve came from an unexpected voice in the Senators’ dressing room.
Erik Karlsson – “I Want To Be Better”
Of all players, it was Erik Karlsson who stepped up to say that he wanted to be better.
After having his best season to date, tallying 82 points in 82 games leading himself to what many believe to be his third Norris-winning season in a row, he would be the last person you’d expect to hear those words from.
Erik Karlsson on 82pts: I didn't feel I had that good of a year, I didn't feel I had that many bounces as I did the year I got 78 #Sens
— Kyle Bukauskas (@SNkylebukauskas) April 11, 2016
But, for some, no matter the personal success, it’s hard to ignore the team’s failures. In his exit interview, Karlsson certainly seemed displeased. For a team that had high hopes of playoff contention entering the season, it wasn’t the way they imagined they would finish.
“We have a playoff ready team, but for some reason we didn’t achieve that this year” – Erik Karlsson
Karlsson also touched on the team’s need for overall defensive improvements, after leading the league in shots against per game (32.8), and finishing fifth overall in goals against (241), saying “that’s going to be our main thing going into next year.” And while the need for overall team improvement is undeniable, Karlsson’s statement about personal improvement is simply shocking.
What is Karlsson’s Ceiling?
As he continues to improve in both his abilities as a player and as a captain and leader, just how good can he be?
Barring Karlsson’s torn Achilles injury in 2012-13, he has missed just one game since 2011-12. In those four fully active seasons, he had just one season below 70 points (66 in 2014-15), and has continued to consistently dominate other NHL defencemen.
Most Points by Dman since 2008-09:
1. Karlsson – 384
2. Keith – 374
3. Weber – 373
EK65 didn't play his first game until 2009-10 season.
— Sens Charts (@SensCharts) April 9, 2016
His declaration of his need to improvement is simply terrifying, as this season, his performance resulted in comparison to Hall of Fame defencemen like Paul Coffey and Bobby Orr.
As shocked as even Karlsson was that he was able to reach 82 points in 82 games, could we see him eventually reach a 100-point season?
He wants to be better and he’s getting better. And he’s already one of the best.
Featured Image was provided by Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers