Karlsson thrilled to don Three Crowns at 4 Nations Face-Off

Erik Karlsson is aiming for more treasured international memories and a championship at the 4 Nations Face-Off after the Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman was named among Team Sweden’s first six players.

Karlsson thrilled to don Three Crowns at 4 Nations Face-Off

Feature Photo: Getty Images

With a wealth of wonderful memories playing for his native Sweden, Erik Karlsson is looking to create more when the puck drops on the 4 Nations Face-Off.

It was by no means a surprise to see the Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman and seven-time NHL All-Star revealed among the first six players named to Team Sweden, which will participate in the international tournament alongside the United States, Canada and Finland in 2025.

“This is obviously a huge honour knowing that you’ll get to represent your country at a best-on-best tournament,” Karlsson said of the games that will be played in Boston and Montreal, from Feb. 12-20.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity. Team Sweden has a lot of good players to choose from, so it’s a humbling experience.”

Karlsson joins Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators), Gustav Forsling (Florida Panthers), Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning), William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Mika Zibanejad (New York Rangers) as initial roster members.

Karlsson, a three-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner, completed his first season with Pittsburgh by leading team defencemen in goals, assists and points.

He also reached a special NHL career milestone last season as the 14th active blueliner to play in 1,000 regular season games when he reached the mark on April 13.

The 34-year-old has posted 817 points over 1,002 career games between his time with the Penguins, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks. In 2022-23, Karlsson was named a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award after becoming only the sixth different defenceman in NHL history to reach the 100-point mark.

The native of Landsbro, Sweden, a village of 1,500 people, has also been a major presence on the international hockey stage for his home country, most recently earning a bronze medal while wearing the “C” at the 2024 IIHF World Championship.

Karlsson has also previously won silver with Sweden at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, in addition to taking home bronze at the 2010 worlds and silver at the 2009 world juniors.  

One particular moment lacing up for Sweden ranks among his top memories on skates, though.

“I would have to say playing at the Olympics in 2014 in Sochi,” said Karlsson.

“It was one of my all-time favourite moments as a hockey player.”

Karlsson expects the 4 Nations Face-Off to make for more international hockey memories.

What is he most looking forward to?

“Just playing against the other nations’ best players with our best players on our team.

“It’s been 10 years since the last time, and I’ve missed it dearly.”

The player who has won three Viking Awards (an annual distinction for the best Swedish hockey player in North America that is voted on by Swedish-born players in the NHL or the NHL farm teams) would love nothing more than to take the 4 Nations Face-Off championship.

Should they achieve that goal, Karlsson would see the result as a team effort that extends beyond the players wearing the iconic Tre Kronor jersey.

“We are a smaller nation, and whenever there are any of the various teams and athletes that compete for Team Sweden, it feels like the entire country rallies behind them.

“So, it’s a special feeling being a player and feeling that support from everyone.”