Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had 102 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. We’ll be counting down the 25 highest-voted players over the next five weeks. Up next: Gabriel Carlsson.
#20: Gabriel Carlsson
20th out of 38 eligible players
Writer Rank: 23
Reader Rank: 17
Highest placement: 2 (1 vote)
Most common placement: 17 (8 votes)
2019 Rank: 13th
Birthdate: January 2, 1997
Birthplace: Orebro, SWE
Weight: 203 lbs
Acquired: Drafted by the Blue Jackets in Round 1 (29th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft
A former first-rounder, Gabriel Carlsson has 37 career NHL games to his credit, and 14 of those came last season when he scored four points (first career goal, three assists). Carlsson also played 14 games in 2017-18 and otherwise has been a mainstay for the Cleveland Monsters.
The Blue Jackets’ blue line has been a bit of a strength since Carlsson officially entered the league in 2016-17 so cracking a regular spot in the rotation was a bit of a task. We’ve seen guys from Seth Jones and Zach Werenski to Ian Cole, Vladislav Gavrikov, Jack Johnson, Dean Kukan, Ryan Murray, Markus Nutivaara, David Savard, and so many others who have filled in on second and third parings and a slew of extra defenseman.
Even as players have departed in recent weeks, it seems crowded still, at least as Carlsson might be concerned. After Werenski and Gavrikov, you have newcomers like Adam Boqvist, Jake Bean, and new contracts for Gavin Bayreuther and Andrew Peeke. You also have Dean Kukan, and then players like Scott Harrington and Carlsson probably don’t figure to chew up a lot of minutes, unless something disastrous happens to other players on the injury front.
Still, for a guy in Carlsson who was drafted in 2015, he’s only 24-years-old. He's making $750,000 this upcoming season ($725,000 AAV) before he’s an RFA. Likely seen as an extra defenseman, we’ll probably see him on the ice at Nationwide Arena at times this season, but just how much is yet to be determined. I’d imagine Carlsson will play the bulk of the season in Cleveland.
Elaine has gotten to see Carlsson quite a bit in Cleveland over the last few seasons and in 2019 she and Elpalito wrote about Carlsson for the 2019 edition of Top 25 under 25. He kinda feels like the AAAA guys in baseball. They’re more than serviceable for AAA but bounce back and forth to the majors, only filling in when applicable like major injury elsewhere on the roster.
The below excerpt comes from Aaron Portzline in The Athletic in July when making the case for Carlsson to the Seattle Kraken in the Expansion Draft:
His towering frame (6-foot-5) and pterodactyl-like reach are Carlsson’s best attributes, and he seemed to put it all together at one point last season in Columbus. But it wasn’t sustainable. He’s big, but not physical. He actually gets pushed around pretty easily, with only 195 pounds on that frame. There is very little offensive upside. Maybe the Kraken see Carlsson as a project with immense promise — the same reason the Blue Jackets made him a first-round pick in 2015 — but he’s 24 years old now. He’s only making $750,000 in 2021-22, the final year of his current contract.