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Chabot hopes Karlsson stays with Senators

Ottawa defenseman calls two-time Norris Trophy winner his mentor

by Robert Laflamme @bobthefire / Lead Writer

SAINTE-MARIE, Quebec -- Thomas Chabot is hoping his first season as Erik Karlsson's protégé isn't the last.

But the 21-year-old Ottawa Senators defenseman knows the reality facing the two-time Norris Trophy winner. 

Karlsson, 28, has one season remaining on a seven-year contract and could become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Senators, who offered Karlsson a contract extension July 1, could trade the perennial all-star. Karlsson was given permission by the Senators to talk to other teams about a contract extension, Sportsnet confirmed July 2.

"I've been following the (Karlsson) situation closely," Chabot said Thursday during the second annual charity golf tournament bearing his name, taking place in his hometown. "And I'd obviously like for him to stay with us. I had the chance to play with him last season and I learned so much from watching him work. He's talented at everything he does. Even his own teammates, we sometimes can't believe the plays that he makes.

"He's a mentor to me, I'm trying to model my playing style after his. He's also a really cool guy outside the rink."

Chabot, selected by Ottawa with the No. 18 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, is coming off a solid rookie season for the Senators. He had 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 63 games and is seen by some as an heir apparent to Karlsson. 

Video: WPG@OTT: Chabot whips wrist shot past Hellebuyck

But Chabot doesn't consider himself ready to fill Karlsson's skates if the Senators trade him.

"You can't just say you're going to take over for an elite player like that," Chabot said. "Players like him don't come around every day."

Karlsson had 62 points (nine goals, 53 assists) in 71 games last season. He has led Ottawa in points, or finished tied for the lead, each of the past five seasons.

The captain of the Senators since 2014, Karlsson won the Norris Trophy in 2012 and 2015, and finished second in 2016 and 2017. He's been voted to the NHL First All-Star Team four times (2012, 2015-17).

The Senators (28-43-11) finished 15th in the Eastern Conference last season, 30 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, one season after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Karlsson might not be with the Senators on opening night against the Chicago Blackhawks at Canadian Tire Centre on Oct. 4. But Chabot should be there, looking to erase the disappointment he felt last season when he was sent down to Ottawa's American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville at the end of training camp.

Chabot made sure his stay in Belleville was short, scoring seven points (two goals, five assists) in 13 games to earn a callup.

"I want to start off on the right foot this season and make a positive impact with the Senators," Chabot said. "I'm going to arrive at camp feeling very comfortable with myself and very satisfied with the efforts that I made this summer. I know what I have to do, and I'm going to concentrate on that."

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