crown³ profile: simon karlsson
Now that free agent frenzy has overtaken the airwaves, it’s almost as if the glory days of the draft are already over… I certainly missed my chance to write about it while it was still hot, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk about it. I didn’t think there was anything new left for me to say, but as I was going through my text messages today, deleting some to clear some space, I came across a text my brother sent me after the Nashville Predators selected their first pick of the draft in the second round. “Who is Magnus Hellberg?” It’s now less than two weeks after the draft and many Predators fans already hold a soft spot for this lovable goalie who at first they questioned why the hell the Preds would even draft him at all. “Who is Magnus Hellberg?” has already been answered. It is no longer a mystery. But he’s not the only newly drafted Swede to show up at development camp this past week. I think a better question today is “who is Simon Karlsson?”
Okay, even though I’ve managed to write such a lovely introduction, the name still may not ring a bell… And that’s okay. Simon Karlsson was chosen in the fifth round, 142nd overall by the Nashville Predators. The 17 year old d-man (I am baffled that there are hockey players who were born in the ‘90s!) is now the youngest prospect in the Nashville system. Karlsson played the majority of the 2010-2011 season in the J20 SuperElit—the highest level of junior hockey in Sweden. Out of the twenty teams in the league, each junior team is associated with a professional team in either the Elitserien or HockeyAllSvenskan and Malmo J20 who Karlsson played 32 games for last season and who he will most likely play for next year is obviously associated with Malmo in the HockeyAllSvenskan. (Preds fans may remember that Malmo is where former Milwaukee Admiral Linus Klasen just signed a three year contract… but I majorly digress).
Most reports are quick to mention Karlsson’s mobility and two-way play. In 15 games for Malmo’s J18 team he was awarded most goals (10), assists, and points (21) by a defensemen—two-way indeed. Even so, it’s rare that he even made an appearance in a draft preview because many sources that even mentioned him thought it was unlikely that he would get drafted at all. But this past week Karlsson was on the ice in Nashville living the dream and skating along with the best of Nashville’s prospects. Paired with two of the Preds’ best defensive prospects Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm, Karlsson’s mini-team won the development camp tournament trophy and skated it around the ice, handing it off as the best tradition in sport entails. At seventeen, Karlsson obviously has a lot of growing to do and a lot of experience to gain, but being chosen in the 5th round doesn’t mean he’ll never make an NHL roster.
Many were in, will be and and still are in the same shoes, playing their hearts out to be noticed by the team drafted by across the team that drafted them across the pond. But the Predators know a thing or two about drafting defensemen (see: Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Dan Hamhuis, Jon Blum, Ryan Ellis, etc etc etc). And a Preds late-round pick should never go under the radar. Pekka Rinne was drafted in the 8th round when therewas an 8th round, fellow countrymen Anders Lindback wasn’t drafted until the 7th round and Patric Hornqvist was drafted as Mr. Irrelevant—230th overall.