When I played with the Ottawa Senators, I got a chance to play alongside Martin Havlat. In my career, I also competed against Havlat while he played for the Senators.
The Senators have had the luxury of having many great and talented players suit up over the years, from Marian Hossa to Zdeno Chara, Dany Heatley to Jason Spezza, and of course, Daniel Alfredsson.
But the one player who had the ability to lift fans out of their seats because of a remarkable play or unbelievably skillful move has always been Marty Havlat.
Havlat is not the best over-all player to have ever played for the Sens, but, for my money, heís the most exciting and most dynamic player to ever put on a Senators uniform.
Players such as Havlat are special, they are unpredictable and they are the type of players who I would pay money to go see.
Yes, I do like to see the team Iím cheering for win, but when I go to a game I want to be entertained and Havlat ó when he played for the Ottawa Senators ó had that special ability to dazzle and electrify fans.
Erik Karlsson, who is a confident guy to begin with, started playing after the all-star break this season with even more swagger and brought his game offensively to the next level.
Karlsson is not a complete player right now. His defensive game needs some polishing, as at times heís a defensive liability. You donít need an expert to know that Karlsson needs to put on size and strength, but right now in the NHL there is not a more dynamic and exciting defenceman in the league, and for the age Karlsson is at, the sky is the limit.
From a standstill, I donít think there is a quicker defenceman off the mark than Karlsson, with maybe the exception of Duncan Keith, who is obviously a better all-around player at this time.
But as far as pure skill and puck control go, heís not in Karlssonís league. Drew Doughty and Dan Boyle, because of experience, know how to pick their spots to join the rush a little better, but Karlssonís dashes are quickly becoming more thoughtful and precise.
Nicklas Lidstrom is the NHLís version of Einstein as far as hockey sense goes, but Karlsson, in time, will learn from his mistakes and make better reads.
Defence is the hardest position to play in the league. It is especially difficult when you play the game trying to be a difference-maker offensively on a nightly basis like Karlsson does. Karlsson is playing now like a guy who wants to be the difference in the game and you have to admire a young player who wants to be the one who decides a game and who is not afraid to make a mistake.