Erik Karlsson D OTT 5 Months

With Jason Spezza expected to be traded at some point, the Ottawa Senators' next captain could be defenseman Erik Karlsson.

The 24-year-old still has some growing to do on and off the ice, but becoming a leader on the team might help speed up the process. Karlsson was excellent offensively in 2013-14, with 20 goals and 74 points in 82 games, but he defensive play still suffers at times and coach Paul MacLean described it as "shoddy" a few weeks ago.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 7 Months

Although he registered an extremely impressive 74 points this season to lead all defencemen in scoring, Erik Karlsson was criticized by his coach Paul MacLean for his defensive play.

MacLean attributed some of Karlsson's sub-standard play to his recovery from an Achilles injury but he didn't let Karlsson off the hook entirely. "Offensively, he's gifted. Defensively, his competitiveness was hampered by his continuous recovery from his Achilles tendon injury he had last year," MacLean said. "He's not a big guy so he has to depend on his skating ability and stability on his skates and he didn't have a lot of confidence in that. In saying that, it can't be an excuse for some of the shoddy play he had during the season. He is our best player and moving forward he's going to be an important part of what we do." It will be interesting to see if Karlsson reacts positively to this tough love approach.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 8 Months

Erik Karlsson had an assist in Ottawa's 1-0 win against Toronto.

Karlsson has 20 goals and 73 points in 81 games this season. No other defenseman has come close to his point total. Duncan Keith ranks second with 61 points in 79 games.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 8 Months

Erik Karlsson hasn't enjoyed the way the 2013-14 campaign has gone.

The Senators likely won't earn a playoff spot and Karlsson still feels somewhat limited in what he can do on the ice after coming back from his Achilles tendon injury. "We're not pleased where we are at," he said. "I don't think anyone is pleased with the season. There are always things you want to be better at. As for my season, I haven't felt the way I really wanted to, things I couldn't do that I thought I could normally do. That's a big part of why I'm not happy where I'm at." Despite his gloomy assessment, Karlsson still leads all NHL defensemen with 70 points in 75 games. He also hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Karlsson has also been named Ottawa's nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 8 Months

Erik Karlsson set a new franchise record Monday night when he scored his 20th goal of the season.

He surpassed Steve Duchesne's mark of 19 goals which he earned during the 1996-97 campaign. Karlsson leads all blueliners in goals and points (69) in 72 games, but he isn't satisfied with his performance yet. "No, not really," he said. "You kind of have measuring sticks of where you want to be and I don't think I've fulfilled anything that I wanted this year." He's been a top-flight offensive force this season, which has probably more than offset his minus-17 rating.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 8 Months

Erik Karlsson was an offensive force for the Senators in a 4-3 shootout win over Tampa Bay Monday.

The NHL's scoring leader among defenseman recorded a goal and two assists in the victory to extend his point lead over the next closest blueliner to 13. The goal was his 20th of the campaign. Kyle Turris and Jason Spezza also found the back of the net for Ottawa in the win.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 8 Months

Erik Karlsson recorded his 19th goal of the season in Saturday's 3-1 loss to Dallas.

The offensive blueliner has lived up to expectations this season with 65 points in 70 games. Karlsson logged a game-high 30:12 of ice time in the contest and he also picked up five shots. Colin Greening earned an assist on the play.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 8 Months

Erik Karlsson produced a goal and an assist in Ottawa's 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay.

He has notched a goal and six assists during his current five-game point streak. Karlsson has amassed 64 points in 69 games this season to lead all blueliners in scoring.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 9 Months

Erik Karlsson recorded two assists on Saturday.

With that, Karlsson has reached the 60-point mark for the second time in three campaigns. The exception was obviously the shortened season where Karlsson was limited to 17 contests due to a lacerated Achilles tendon. He's emerged as an elite offensive defenseman and should be the first blueliner taken in fantasy drafts next season.

Erik Karlsson D OTT 9 Months

Erik Karlsson netted his 17th goal of the season in Ottawa's 3-2 loss to Edmonton on Tuesday.

He has scored in consecutive games now and continues to lead all NHL defensemen in goals and points (57). Karlsson also concluded the match with five shots to give him a total of 198 on the year.