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Sharks' Karlsson wins Sweden's Victoria Prize

Erik Karlsson San Jose Sharks Erik Karlsson - The Canadian Press

San Jose Sharks defenceman Erik Karlsson won the Victoria Prize as Sweden's top athlete of the year on Friday.

Karlsson is the first hockey player to win the award since New York Ranger and hall of fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist won the award in 2016.

The 33-year old won the Norris Trophy last season as the NHL's best defenceman after registering 25 goals and 101 points with the Sharks and was a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award for the most outstanding player as selected by members of the NHLPA.

Karlsson has expressed an interest in being traded from San Jose in order to join a Stanley Cup contender and has been working with the Sharks in order to find a  potential trade partner.

However, his $11.5 million cap hit for next four seasons has limited his options while the Sharks have indicated that they will not retain a large portion of his salary.

"Why? because it's a lot of money," Sharks general manager Mike Grier said. "Erik's a special player, he's on the path to being a Hall of Fame player. He's healthy. I think he proved he was healthy last year. He's a special player who drives offence like not many others in this league."

Drafted 15th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2008 draft, Karlsson has 178 goals and 761 points in 920 career games split between the Senators and Sharks.

The 6-foot right-shot defenceman is a three-time Norris Trophy winner (2012, 2015, 2023) and has been named as an NHL first-team all-star five times (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2023).

Karlsson represented Sweden at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia, recording four goals and eight points in six games en route to a silver medal.

He also represented his country twice at the IIHF World Championship and won a bronze medal in 2010 and helped Sweden to a semifinal finish at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.