Player: Anton Karlsson
Drafted By: Arizona Coyotes (87th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 11 European skater
Height/Weight: 6'1'', 194 lbs
DOB: August 3, 1996 (17 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: Frolunda Jr. (Sweden)
Anton Karlsson comes from a hockey family. While he is not related to former Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, his older brother Erik was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL draft.
Anton scored 12 goals and accumulated 22 points in 28 games for Frolunda in Sweden. He also played for Sweden at the World Juniors but was held without a point and was cast in a checking role during the tournament.
While Karlsson has yet to play hockey in North America, he plays a very North American style of hockey, and few scouts feel he will have much difficulty adjusting.
Full Scouting Report
Anton Karlsson is a grinder and a banger. He likes to irritate opposing players and will hit anything that moves.
Goran Stubb, the NHL's director of European scouting, told NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale this about Anton before the draft:
He likes to play physical and he gives it everything he has on every shift. He was one of the few 17-year-old players to make the World Junior team and was pretty good, he worked hard every shift. Maybe people expected a little more from him, but he's in a good organization and we know the talent is there; it just didn't come out as expected. Any team drafting him will be happy; he's a good prospect.
TSN's Craig Button also liked the way Karlsson approaches the game. "Anton is a catalyst for positive results. He can do it multiple ways; skill wise, physically, skating and smarts and understands what may be needed at any given point of a game and delivers. Competes at every turn."
Unlike most 17-year-old prospects, Karlsson's size actually works in his favor. At 6'1" and 187 pounds, he already uses his bulk to hit opposing players and make his presence felt.
There is little doubt that Karlsson gives 100 percent on every shift and that he is ready to take on older opponents.
He has the skating ability to keep up with more skilled opponents.
NHL Player Comparison
Karlsson is a banger who likes to hit opponents every chance he gets. He reminds me of Jarkko Ruutu, who last played for the Anaheim Ducks in 2010-11 and is now playing in Finland. Karlsson is an agitator and a banger with some offensive potential.
It may not take Karlsson that long to reach the NHL. He already has the size to compete against older players but needs to work on some of the other aspects of his game. The earliest he will arrive in the NHL is 2015-16, depending on when he arrives in North America and how quickly he adjusts to life in a new country and culture.
Karlsson projects as a third-line grinder and banger with some upside potential. Figure he could score 15 goals and 40 points a year but be the kind of player assigned to check and slow down an opposing team's top line and create energy for his team.