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(Aside: Whenever I see this photo, I hear Kang -- the alien from The Simpsons -- saying, "Eat! Grow large with food!")

No, this doesn't have anything to do with speed reading. But it does involve the Senators' own type of accelerated progression, and the risks versus rewards.

Talk to any Sens fan about the future, and Karlsson's name will immediately come up. He's the bright spot; the next great hope for Ottawa during what has been a dismal couple of years at both the farm and NHL level. Karlsson is also an offensive defenceman -- a position that has gone without a proper identity in the nation's capital for some time (even when players like Wade Redden were still here).

The weight on Erik's slight shoulders doesn't stop there. The 19-year-old Swede sparkled at the 2009 World Junior Championships, and won the tournament's award for "Best Defenseman." This was the first true opportunity for the Ottawa crowd to see their blue-chip prospect in action, and fans were anxious for more. Karlsson has also been playing for the Frolunda Indians of the SEL since the 2007-08 season (in addition, he logged seven games with Boras HC late last year). This experience has allowed the media to push the notion that he might be a boy, but he's playing among men, and therefore is likely further along in his development than other blueliners of his age.

Karlsson's hockey history obviously shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt, but here's the deal: Defenceman always require extra grooming and care before playing in the NHL. He still needs to adjust to the North American style of play -- ice size, season length and the sheer wear and tear of the game. Karlsson (like a great deal of Swede players) is mobile and capable with the puck. Sens fans are dying to see this approach once again at their blueline. However, he still needs to polish his defensive game and put some meat on his bones. Stats currently have him listed as 5'-11" and 175 lbs. Take a gander at EK during training camp this week, and see if you can believe that.

Sens fans have all but fallen in love with their upcoming d-man. They adore his style, his boyish face and his entertaining sound bytes. Not only is Ottawa hungry for a premiere representative on defence, they also miss having someone who can peak their interest off the ice in a positive way. Combine all this with one more fact: The reality that Brian Lee -- the previous No. 1 drafted blueliner -- has yet to pan out, and you realize that expectations are bordering on unrealistic for young Erik Karlsson. What happens if he's rushed into a spot on the team, and becomes overwhelmed? Ottawa seems fully of the mindset that once Erik comes, he's staying up here.

Everyone wants Erik Karlsson to succeed so badly, and the last thing the Sens need is to set him up for failure. That being said, Ottawa should think long and hard before awarding him a spot on the roster this October. Things are rough in the nation's capital right now, but it might be better if Karlsson remained a future hope in the minors with the proper time to develop, as opposed to a present disappointment in the majors.

More later.

1 response to "Is Erik Karlsson on the Sens' Evelyn Wood plan?"

  1. And if he played in North America, he'd lose a year on his entry-level deal and bring him one year closer to unrestricted free agency.

    What's more important? Rushing him in now or having him for cheap one year down the road when he's developed?