LAS VEGAS -- The week just keeps getting better and better for Erik Karlsson. After inking a seven-year deal with the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday morning, Karlsson topped that off by being the surprise winner of the Norris Trophy Wednesday night.
With all due respect to Karlsson, the dynamic Senators defenseman seemed wildly overmatched by his co-nominees, Nashville’s Shea Weber and former Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.
But voters were clearly wowed by Karlsson’s superlative offensive season that saw him eclipse all defensemen in terms of point production, registering 78 points, 25 more than the next highest scoring defenseman.
Karlsson, normally an easygoing type who is quick with a joke, acknowledged he was completely taken aback by the win.
“It’s not something that I counted on, especially not now," Karlsson said. "It feels just really great, I think. I’m just a little bit nervous; never been this nervous before in this kind of way. It’s in one way very frustrating because I want to be who I normally am, but it’s very big and it’s a great honor and it’s something I will look back on as being one of the best days of my life.”
He joked that he will need to watch the tape of the award announcement to recall how it all happened.
"It’s just a lot of fun right now and I’m going to enjoy myself,” Karlsson said.
The 22-year-old became the youngest Norris Trophy winner since Bobby Orr won the first of eight straight Norris Trophies at age 20 in 1968.
Someone asked if he wished he’d waited one day before signing a new deal, but Karlsson said he was happy with how things played out this week. His seven-year deal will pay him an average of $6.5 million annually.
The Karlsson win marked the second straight year Weber was denied a Norris by the slimmest of margins. A year ago, Weber was edged by Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit by a 736-727 vote.
This year, Karlsson nudged the Nashville captain to second place by a 1,069 to 1,057 count.
Chara was gracious in defeat.
“Well, he’s obviously having a great year and very productive. He’s got unbelievable skills so I would like to congratulate him,” the 2009 Norris winner said of Karlsson.