2021 Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under-25: # 14 Linus Karlsson

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Welcome to the 2021 edition of Vancouver Canucks Top 25 under 25s. The list includes all players born after January 1, 1997. Seven editors (Beggsy, Westy, Kent Basky, CanucksAbbyFan2, Markus Meyer, Noah Strang, Harsunder Singh H) and two external editors (Daniel Gee & Cam Robinson) voted for the project.

When Linus Karlsson was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks in 2019, there didn’t seem to be much promise for his future in the NHL.

Fast forward to today, and the 21-year-old has quietly climbed the Canucks’ depth chart of prospects.

Karlsson is coming off a fantastic campaign in Sweden’s second division hockey league Allsvenskan. He has 51 points in 52 games, the second-highest points total of all time for a U22 player in league history.

Since a mid-season trade with BIK Karlskoga in 2019-2020, Karlsson’s game has improved significantly. He has scored 69 points (good) in 64 games, having scored 40 points in his first 88 career games at the Allsvenskan.

Karlsson was also very hot for BIK Karlskoga in the Allsvenskan playoffs. He has 15 points in 11 games, including five goals and nine points in his team’s last three playoff games.

Despite the success, there are two general things to note with Karlsson. Despite the improvement, Cam Robinson of Elite Prospects notes that speed and speed are an issue for Karlsson, something he will need to rectify if he is to stay in the NHL.

The other remark about Karlsson is his inexplicable connection to former Canucks prospect Jonathan Dahlen. While Karlsson has significantly improved his stock since the trade, Dahlen has also performed well. The 23-year-old signed a one-year, one-sided contract with the San Jose Sharks during the offseason, and he is expected to start preseason action on a line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.

Right now that says a lot more about the Sharks’ desperation for skilled forwards, but that narrative could change if Dahlen stays with San Jose once the regular season begins. There’s a good chance this business will go like a wash of nothing (Hunter Shinkaruk for Markus Granlund, anyone?) But for now, the story is still being written.

What’s next for Karlsson?

Karlsson signed a two-year contract with SHL’s Skellefteå AIK during the offseason. This is important because the Canucks only have until next June to keep their rights. There is an exit clause in his contract to come to North America if he chooses to sign.

That’s important because this is one of those years of make-or-break cliché for Karlsson if he is considering a future with the Canucks organization. He is off to a good start, however, scoring two goals in the SHL’s first four games this season.

Karlsson is currently a right winger on Skellefteå’s second line. That’s quite significant due to the lack of ice depth in the center of the Canucks’ organization.

However, it doesn’t matter if he’s playing on the wing or at the center, there’s a good chance he’ll sign with the Canucks organization before June 1, 2022 if he has a good season in the SHL. Considering Karlsson is a decent prospect in an organization starting to lack depth, letting him walk for nothing would not be a wise move if he turns out to be worthy of a contract.

For now, Alex Burrows’ business tree – and Karlsson’s future in the NHL – remains intact.

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