By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was drafted in the 2nd round 45th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. When he was drafted, he was a smooth skating two-way center who had an impressive offensive game. While he could score on his own, his passing ability and vision on the ice are what really won over scouts. He was even crowned “Patrice Bergeron 2.0” by then fellow prospect Matt Grzelcyk. That’s some high praise to live up to, so let’s dig into what’s happened since being drafted and see why he garnered such high praise.
After being drafted, Forsbacka Karlsson was slated to begin the 2015-16 with Boston. Boston University that is. During his Freshman season with the Boston University Terriers Forsbacka Karlsson played in 39 games potting 10 goals and dishing out 20 assists for 30 total points and +/- rating of +4. This was a good first season since being drafted for Forsbacka Karlsson. He was able to show off his offensive skill especially distributing the puck. He also was able to show that because of his slick skating, his defensive game was almost as impressive, if not more so than his offensive game. This garnered high praise from the Bruins organization. Both Forsbacka Karlsson and the Bruins hoped it was a season to build upon going forward.
The 2016-17 season was Forsbacka Karlsson’s Sophomore season at Boston University, and he came into it wearing the “A” on his sweater. This is a big deal, he was already showing at a young age he had those intangible leadership qualities that teams look for. In 39 games with the Terriers, Forsbacka Karlsson improved a lot on his first season netting 14 goals and dishing out 19 assists for 33 total points and a rating of +11. This was a great season for Forsbacka Karlsson and something that stood out even more than his offensive ability was the way he played in his own zone. His defensive responsibility is what separated himself from other prospects around the same age. It was such a good season he even got into 1 game with the Boston Bruins at the end of the year. He didn’t register a point in limited ice-time, but he got a little taste of what it was like to play on the big stage of the NHL.
The 2017-18 brought a big change for Forsbacka Karlsson. It was his first professional season, and he spent the entirety of it in the AHL with Providence. He wasn’t fully developed as a prospect yet, but he had the tools to be a good offensive forward who could also be shut down defensively. All that was left was taking those tools, developing them, and putting them together on the ice. Forsbacka Karlsson was able to get into 59 games for Providence netting 15 goals and dishing out 17 assists for 32 total points and a rating of +3. He also played in Providence’s 4 playoff games netting 1 goal with 0 assists for 1 total point and a rating of –2. It was good first full professional season for Forsbacka Karlsson to build on moving forward.
Coming into this season Forsbacka Karlsson was in the running for the third-line center job out of training camp. He ultimately was sent down at the end of camp to Providence to work on some things. One big thing the Bruins wanted him working on was shooting the puck more. He is more of a pass-first forward looking to get others involved before scoring himself. While in Providence he did get into 10 games scoring 1 goal and distributing 3 assists for 4 total points a rating of –2. Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy was impressed with his play and with injuries piling up for Boston, Forsbacka Karlsson was called up to the big club. In 9 games with Boston, he does have 2 goals and 0 assists for 2 total points and a rating of –2. His primary role has been more limiting the opposition’s scoring chances because of the injuries to the Bruins defense. However, I would look for his role to increase as he gets more comfortable and more players start to get healthy.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is one of the Bruins best prospects moving forward. He has all the tools to become a good shutdown forward who can also contribute in the offensive zone. While he was dubbed “Patrice Bergeron 2.0” by teammate Matt Grzelcyk early on as a prospect, another player I have seen Forsbacka Karlsson compared to is David Backes from his days in St. Louis. Now, these are both lofty comparisons to live up to but with a little time, and effort they are ones that Forsbacka Karlsson could live up to. Overall, with the Bruins’ current forwards and the ones on the verge of making it, the present and future are both very bright for the Boston Bruins.