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Canucks Prospect Rewind: Linus Karlsson should have gotten into NHL games last season

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Photo credit:@abbotsfordcanucks on IG
Faber
By Faber
10 months ago
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Exceeding expectations is a great trait to have as a prospect and that’s exactly what we saw from Linus Karlsson this past season.
The 23-year-old Swedish winger made the jump to North America this past season after having back-to-back seasons where he shined in the SHL and Allsvenskan leagues. Karlsson is 6’2″ and got his high-level shot off a lot this past season. Karlsson led the Abbotsford Canucks in shots on net with 170 in 72 games.
Karlsson’s goal-scoring was great to see, as he led Abbotsford with 24 goals on the year.
But it wasn’t the goal-scoring that impressed us the most this year — what we were impressed by was how physical and tough this Karlsson kid is.
AHL teams hated Karlsson this year. He was often targeted between the whistles and took a lot of cheap shots after the whistle from the opposition. Through it all, Karlsson was the only Abbotsford Canucks to play in all 72 games this season and his stock climbed like Alex Honnold.
It’s safe to say that Karlsson was the most-clutch player on the Abbotsford Canucks last season. He consistently scored big goals in big moments and did a lot of the damage at five-on-five. Karlsson found the most success when he was playing with NHL-calibre linemates. The Swedish House Mafia line was assembled in January — placing Nils Höglander and Nils Åman with Karlsson.
Karlsson, Höglander and Åman know each other from back home in Sweden as they have spent time working together in the offseason. The trio looked dangerous on almost every shift and scored some beautiful goals.
When we were watching the tape on Karlsson from his time in Sweden, we knew that Karlsson was going to be able to be a power play contributor at the AHL level but the other parts of his game were the exciting part of this past year’s development. Karlsson is a trusted defender who uses his size and long reach to be disruptive in his own end. He certainly isn’t a burner when it comes to his skating but the worries about his skating holding him back in North America didn’t show up last year in the AHL. Now, the NHL is another animal and the speed is much faster — we are not sure how Karlsson is going to look in terms of pace in the best league in the world.
We are confident about his puck possession skills and his ability to create scoring chances for himself or his teammates. Karlsson quickly became a fan favourite in Abbotsford and though we believe he will start the 2023-24 season in the AHL, we will not be surprised to see him get a shot in the NHL by Christmas.
Karlsson was a perimeter scorer in Sweden but he quickly became a net front presence in the AHL and that was simply shocking from everything that we saw in Sweden. This part of his game just wasn’t really there in the tape we watched. He shocked us at development camp with his size and then backed it up with some toughness through a season where he was one of 27 AHL players to play in all 72 games.

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For those who still think that he’s a centre because of his EliteProspects page, you’re incorrect. Karlsson didn’t play one game at centre this past season. He occasionally took faceoffs on a power play unit but that was only when there were no other natural centres on the ice. Karlsson will be in the mix for a fourth line role and the fact that he became a trusted penalty killer in the AHL this past season certainly gives him another piece in his toolbelt for Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet to be aware of.
The combination of his size, reach, and offensive awareness make Karlsson a strong penalty killer. He understands where the best scoring chances come from and that helped him this past season as we noticed that he shaded the bumper position well. Karlsson could be an interesting penalty kill partner for J.T. Miller or Elias Pettersson. If he is able to work on taking faceoffs, we may even see him partner up with Dakota Joshua on a penalty killing duo.
The chemistry between Karlsson and Åman also gives him a chance to make a realistic run for a fourth line role to begin the season. He brings more offence than some of the other options and we might even see a world where the Swedish House Mafia line comes together for an NHL game.
We don’t expect to see Karlsson begin the season in the NHL but if he puts on a show at training camp, he is certainly a strong candidate for the opening night roster.
Prediction for the 2023-24 season
28 games played, 13 goals, 18 assists in AHL.
27 games played, five goals, six assists in NHL.

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