Linus Karlsson continues to follow in the footsteps of Elias Pettersson, albeit at a slightly older age.
The Vancouver Canucks prospect had a phenomenal season in the Swedish Hockey League, scoring 26 goals and 46 points in 52 games. Like Pettersson, that led all SHL rookies in scoring, though Pettersson actually lead the entire league in scoring.
In fact, Karlsson scored more goals than Pettersson did in his rookie year, though Pettersson was 19 at the time and Karlsson is 22.
That’s a significant accomplishment for a player who had struggled to score at the Allsvenskan level the year after he was drafted, but Karlsson has been on an upward trajectory ever since he was acquired by the Canucks in a trade with the San Jose Sharks for Jonathan Dahlen.
Last season, Karlsson was 8th in the Allsvenskan in scoring with 20 goals and 51 points in 52 games. To transition so smoothly to the SHL to finish 9th in SHL scoring and 2nd in goalscoring is a result of a lot of hard work and determination. If he can transition to the NHL even half as well and be a contributor in the Canucks lineup next season, that would be a major boon for an organization that needs forward depth.
Some big names have previously won the rookie of the year award in the SHL. Along with Pettersson, two other former Canucks have won the award — Jacob Markstrom and Loui Eriksson. Another Canucks draft pick won the award back in 1999 — 5th round pick David Ytfeldt — but he never made it to the NHL.
Some other notable names among the SHL’s rookies of the year include Henrik Zetterberg, Victor Hedman, Nicklas Backstrom, Patric Hornqvist, Tobias Enstrom, William Karlsson, and Mattias Ekholm.
Karlsson not in the lineup for Sweden at World Championship
It was expected that Karlsson would be named to Team Sweden for the 2022 IIHF World Championship, joining his presumably future Canucks teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but Sweden has already played — and won — two games at the tournament, which started May 13 and Karlsson is not listed on the roster.
In fact, Sweden has played both of their games undermanned, dressing just nine forwards for their first game against Austria, then 11 forwards against Czechia. It seems Sweden is keeping the door open for any Swedes in the NHL that might join after being knocked out of the first round of the playoffs. Karlsson might still play at the World Championship but for now he’s not on the roster.
Other Canucks have been in the lineup for their countries at the World Championship. Juho Lammikko has already played three games for Finland, who are hosting the tournament, and goaltender prospect Arturs Silovs has dressed for three games for Latvia, albeit as the backup for Elvis Merzlikins.
While Karlsson has yet to be signed by the Canucks, it’s expected that he will sign his entry-level contract upon the conclusion of the World Championship tournament, which ends on May 29. If he doesn’t play in the tournament, perhaps he’ll sign sooner.
The Canucks hold Karlsson’s rights until June 1.
Linus Karlsson's rookie season by the numbers
Here are a few bonus numbers from Karlsson’s season in the SHL.
179 | Karlsson took a ton of shots on his way to 26 goals. Despite averaging just 16:29 per game in ice time, Karlsson finished 4th in the SHL in shots on goal with 179.
48 | A big chunk of those shots came on the power play, where he was second in the SHL with 48 shots. That’s where half of his 26 goals were scored this season.
56.94% | While Karlsson didn’t take a lot of faceoffs for Skelleftea, he was dynamite when called upon. Of his 72 faceoffs, Karlsson won 56.94% of them, leading all rookies by a wide margin — no other rookie with at least 50 faceoff attempts was over 50%.
28 | Karlsson wasn’t just used on the power play — he also played a regular shift on the penalty kill, averaging 28 seconds per game shorthanded. He even had a shorthanded goal and assist.
2 | Karlsson was only on the ice for two power play goals against. Add in his two shorthanded points and Karlsson actually broke even while killing penalties, which is pretty impressive.
56.67% | Among SHL rookies that played more than 10 games, Karlsson led the SHL with a 56.67% corsi — shot attempts were 654-to-500 in Skelleftea’s favour when Karlsson was on the ice at 5-on-5.