Erik Karlsson was given a hero's welcome last night at Scotiabank Place.
Not only did Senators GM Bryan Murray swing a deal to move up three spots from the No. 18 position to select the Swedish defenceman, but Karlsson was welcomed to the franchise by captain Daniel Alfredsson, who announced the club's selection.
Karlsson, 18, a small 5-foot-10, 157-lb., but hard-hitting blueliner who suited up for Frolunda -- the same place where Alfredsson learned the game -- was thrilled to hear his name called by the Senators, who made a deal with the Predators to get the No. 15 selection.
THRILLED TO BE SEN
"That was really great," said Karlsson. "I just hope that I can live up to the expectations. Of course I know Daniel Alfredsson, I've known him my whole life because I've watched him all the time. I actually got to skate with him last summer (in Goteborg) and it's really special.
"To be drafted by a great team like Ottawa, with the draft in the city, was a great feeling. I just want to come in here and do the best that I can. I know that I need to get bigger. I've got to work on my strength. I'm going to stay in Sweden next year and then come over."
The Senators were looking at a number of different options -- including a goaltender -- but they had Karlsson ranked at No. 9 on their list and wanted a shot at him. They didn't feel like they could wait any longer so they sweetened the post by giving Nashville a third-round pick.
COMPARED TO KRONWALL
Karlsson has been compared to Detroit blueliner Niklas Kronwall.
Karlsson needs to get bigger, but those who have seen him play say that he "hits like a Mack truck" and has tremendous offensive skills that are going to help the Senators' power play down the road.
"We felt the opportunity to get a skill defencemen with a shot and somebody who can shoot the puck was important," said Murray. "He's smart without the puck and he's got speed to get up the ice without the puck. He moves the puck really well.
"The scouts who followed him and saw him in great detail, felt that when we had the chance to move up, we should do it.
"When Nashville gave me the opportunity and I made sure that we could get him, I felt that I could go ahead and make the move."
Karlsson said he wasn't going to compare himself to anybody.
"I have my own style. I don't like to look at anybody else," said Karlsson. "I like to hit. I like to take the chance to make a big hit. Everybody wants to take a shot if they can get it."
Senators European scout Vaclav Burda said Karlsson is going to be an impact player for the club down the road.
"He's extremely smart and a two-defenceman who is going to run the power play in the near future," said Burda, who saw plenty of Karlsson last season.
"I really appreciate his quality. He can move the puck and pass. Hopefuly, on a skilled team, he's going to be a good asset."
Karlsson led Sweden at the 2008 under-18 world championship with seven assists in six games. He was named the tournament's best defenceman.