Anton Karlsson is a speedy forward with a lot of upside. He is the brother of Erik Karlsson, but not the Ottowa Senator Erik Karlsson, the Erik Karlsson drafted 99th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2012. He is a pain to play against and has a wide set of skill to go with his size and speed. Could he be the right pick for the Devils in the first round?
Who is Anton Karlsson?
Karlsson is a 6'2", 194 lbs forward currently playing for Florunda in the J20 SuperElit, which is the Swedish Junior League. He's a big, speedy left wing that's great on the forecheck though many scouts don't think he is ready for the NHL yet - but at just 17-years-old, that isn't too surprising.
He's done a lot for such a young player - he was the youngest player on Sweden's silver-medal WJC team, was the captain of Sweden's Five Nations team this year, and captained Sweden to a gold medal at the 2013 Under-17 WHC (he scored six goals and three assists in six games).
Karlsson is always considered one of the hardest working players on whatever team he is on. He has many positives to his game - he's a leader, an above average skater, strong passer, is great around the net, has a lethal wrist shot, is great on the rush, tough to play against... the list goes on. On top of that, Karlsson has all of these skills in a big body that doesn't get pushed around easily and is hard to knock off the puck. He can handle the puck well while moving extremely quickly and he works hard to protect his own end. He also works to keep his defensive game strong, as well - he focuses on his positioning when defending and finishes his checks well.
The biggest thing working against him is his age - he hasn't had much time to prove himself as a sure thing. There is no proof that his junior play will transition into a strong pro game, but he has every tool necessary to do just that.
He seems to have an extremely positive outlook and great character. He had this to say of his style of play,
"I am a very physical player and I love to take the positive energy to my team. I like my role in the game."
What experts are saying about Karlsson:
Steven Hoffner of NHL.com has the Devils picking Karlsson in the first round in his most recent mock draft. In his explanation, he wrote,
"Plays both ends effectively and has strong playmaking ability which would fit in nicely in New Jersey."
You can't argue with that. His style of play seems to be exactly what the Devils look for in players, and what the team needs more of in the system.
"He's a physical player and effective on the forecheck. He works real hard and finishes his checks well."
"Sweden's youngest player, who just turned 17 in August, emerged as a "crowd favourite" with his tenacity during the two pre-competition games. Karlsson is considered a potential top-15 pick in the NHL draft. Also, for clarity's sake, he is the younger brother of the Erik Karlsson who is also with Sweden, not the Ottawa Senators defenceman."
He's good at the shootout! Here's one of his moves:
Here's another one.
Here's a quick profile on Karlsson from Hockey Canada (his part starts around the 1:00 mark):
If you can't tell from my profile above, I like Anton Karlsson a lot. It may be a bit of a risky pick since he isn't the most proven player, but there is a lot of reward to be had, as well. I love his style of play and think he could end up being a steal at 30th overall. If he is still available when the Devils are up, I'd grab him, for sure.
Karlsson seems to have a great attitude, he plays the way the Devils like to play, and has the offensive power the team desperately needs. He may not be ready for the NHL immediately, but that is the case with most 30th overall draft picks.
What do you think of Anton Karlsson? Do you think he would be a good first round pick? Do you think the Devils should pass on him if he is still available at 30th overall? What are your reservations about his play? Please leave your thoughts an comments on Karlsson below. Thanks for reading!