Frolunda's draft-eligible Karlsson brings 'warrior' element to game
In a country flooded with top prospects at virtually every position, make sure to remember Swedish right wing Anton Karlsson heading into the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27-28.
In addition to being ranked No. 11 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top European skaters eligible for the 2014 draft, there's this:
"I think the scouts see a warrior in my game," Karlsson said. "I'm a big player, big size (6-foot-1, 187 pounds). I like to hit bodies and just be a pain in the [neck] for the other team."
Goran Stubb, the NHL Director of European Scouting, said he can see the warrior-type mentality that Karlsson speaks of in his game.
"He likes to play physical and he gives it everything he has on every shift," Stubb said. "He was one of the few 17-year-old players to make the World Junior team and was pretty good, he worked hard every shift. Maybe people expected a little more from him, but he's in a good organization and we know the talent is there; it just didn't come out as expected.
"Any team drafting him will be happy; he's a good prospect."
As one of the hardest workers for Frolunda's team in Sweden's under-20 league, Karlsson had 12 goals, 22 points, 88 penalty minutes and a plus-3 rating in 28 games. He also helped Sweden win a silver medal at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. He said the tournament, in Malmo, Sweden, did wonders for his progression and confidence.
"When I played on the U-20 team in Malmo and played for my home country, that was a very big step for me," he said. "I played with my brother [Erik] and it was a good experience. I was injured in the game against Norway [and missed two games], but it was my best tournament. I just tried to play strong out there, play my own game."
Having an opportunity to play with Nashville Predators top prospect Filip Forsberg on the WJC team was something Karlsson also appreciated. Forsberg, who was named the tournament's most valuable player, had four goals and 12 points in seven games.
"He was a great captain," Karlsson said. "He had the leadership, was a great teammate and really took care of all the guys. I learned a lot just watching him at practice and game situations."
In five games at the WJC Karlsson had no points, two shots on goal and a plus-1 rating. He likely will get another shot on Sweden's national junior team at the 2015 WJC in Montreal and Toronto.
"I play a good physical game and like to take the puck to the net very fast," Karlsson said. "I want to set up good chances for my teammates."
Karlsson's older brother Erik, who played with Anton at the start of the season, was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fourth round (No. 99) of the 2012 NHL Draft. Anton, who exhibits more of an edge on the ice than his brother, hopes to follow in his footsteps.
"I don't think so much about [the draft], but of course it would be fun to be chosen as high as possible," he said. "There are many great players in the draft, so I know it will be tough. I like the North American style of game because I like to hit bodies and show my skills and hands to set up teammates.
"I hope the scouts had a chance to see that."
Karlsson doesn't get many opportunities to watch the NHL because of the time difference in Sweden, but he is a big admirer of Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin.
"They're just fun to watch, so skilled and they have the hands that make them great," Karlsson said. "I also like watching Henrik Zetterberg and guys like Daniel Alfredsson."
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer