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Norris winner Karlsson to leave Finnish team

Dec 27, 2012, 1:44 PM EST

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Erik Karlsson Getty Images

Erik Karlsson‘s time in Finland is coming to a close.

Karlsson, the Ottawa defenseman currently playing with SM-liiga club Jokerit, has announced he’ll leave the Finnish league when his contract expires on Saturday.

The Ottawa Citizen reports the reigning Norris Trophy winner will return to his native Sweden and wait for the NHL lockout to end.

“Erik was excellent, we were very happy and it was a pleasure having him,” Jokerit GM Jarmo Kekäläinen said via e-mail. “He will be missed. Good player and a great guy.”

Karlson has been a dynamic scorer for Jokerit — 27 points in 27 games — and played a key role in the club’s increased attendance. Kekäläinen said the club was averaging 9,600 fans per game this season, “a lot higher” than figures from 2011-12.

It’s understandable why Karlsson wants some downtime prior to the (possible) start of the NHL campaign. This will mark the first season of his seven-year, $45.5 million extension, one that carries at $6.5 million cap hit annually.

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