The Ottawa Senators are about to have their third captain in three seasons. Defenseman Erik Karlsson knows it could be him.
"Obviously it's something that I wouldn't say no to [but] it's not something that I'm going to ask for," Karlsson told the Senators website Monday. "I think whoever takes the decision is going to make the right one, and whether it's me or someone else, I think it's going to be good for the team and good for the organization."
The Senators need a replacement for Jason Spezza, who was traded to the Dallas Stars this offseason. Spezza took over as captain from Daniel Alfredsson, who signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent prior to last season.
Ottawa failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs after making them the prior two seasons.
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"It's going to be a change, but I think at the same time I think the group we have is developing," Karlsson said. "Even though we kind of had a bad year last year I think we're going to be a better team this year with or without [Jason]. I think everybody is motivated coming back and someone is going to have to step up, but it's part of the business as well. You have to give the new guys the opportunity to shine and hopefully someone will take it."
Karlsson, 24, has ascended to face of the franchise status, whether he is captain or not. Veteran alternate captains Chris Neil (35) and Chris Phillips (36) are other candidates.
"That's how it is playing on a Canadian team and that's what you have to take," said Karlsson, who is signed through 2018-19. "It comes with its ups and downs, and it's a great feeling playing for a city where everybody cares so much. It's going to be hard at times and people are going to analyze you for whatever you do."
After missing most of the 2012-13 season with an Achilles tendon injury, Karlsson returned to play 82 games last season.
"I feel great. ... I feel way better now than I did at this point last year and I really feel that everything is starting to connect more," Karlsson said. "I've been doing some things this summer that I couldn't do last year, and I'll keep working on it and hopefully by the time that the season starts I'm going to be miles ahead of where I was last year."
Karlsson's 74 points (20 goals, 54 assists) led NHL defenseman by 13 (Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks was second with 61).
"I'm extremely excited about my own game and about the team's game and where it's going to take us," Karlsson said. "Right now I feel fresh and I feel like I'm in a place in my life, on and off the ice, where I'm happy about myself and I'm excited moving forward, and there's a lot of small things that I know I'm going to need to take care of on the ice to be a better hockey player and I think I'm up to date with what I need to do."