2023 Draft Prospect Profile: Leo Carlsson could make an immediate impact
He's a legit top-liner, if not a generational talent like Bedard/Fantilli
The 2023 NHL Entry Draft is rapidly approaching, and it's time to look at who the Blue Jackets could pick on Wednesday, June 28th. The Columbus Blue Jackets own their first rounder, guaranteed to be in the Top 4, as well as the LA Kings' pick, which will likely be in the 20s. Next up: Leo Carlsson.
The Fifth Line is used to shouting "LEO!" at home games prior to the national anthem(s). Could we shout that name after goals in the near future?
While the dream is selecting Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli, the more likely outcome is that Columbus picks at #3 (30.7%) or #4 (41.7). The best available options appear to be winger Matvei Michkov or centers Leo Carlsson and Will Smith. Today we're looking at Leo Carlsson.
While Carlsson was once spoken of as being part of the top 3 or top 4 in this draft, his stock seems to have fallen a bit. His ceiling is seen as lower than Michkov, and even Smith is gaining on him. Nevertheless, Carlsson did earn the honor of being ranked as the top international skater in the final rankings from NHL Central Scouting.
Other top European skaters in recent years: last year's top pick, Juraj Slafkovsky, William Eklund, and Tim Stutzle.
While Bedard was playing in the WHL and Fantilli was playing in NCAA, Carlsson was playing against adults in the SHL – one of the best leagues in Europe. He managed 9 points in 35 games as a 17 year old in his first pro season, and improved to 25 points in 44 games this season. He stepped it up even more in the postseason, with 9 points in 13 games. He also scored 6 points in 7 games for Sweden in the latest World Juniors, so this kid has a knack for tournament play.
While he has played wing for Orebro, he is projected as a center. Given his pro experience, there's a good chance that, if drafted by Columbus, he could come over to North America immediately and compete for a roster spot.
Team: Orebro HK
Date of Birth: December 26, 2004
Birthplace: Karlstad, Sweden
Ranked #4 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #3 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #4 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #4 by DAILY FACEOFF
Ranked #3 by THE HOCKEY NEWS
Ranked #3 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #3 by MCKEEN'S HOCKEY
Ranked #3 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #1 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)
Ranked #3 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #6 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #4 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #4 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #3 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Games Played: 44
Carlsson’s a big kid who has begun to come into his body (he’s 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds), but he’s also got slick handling and finesse for a forward his size, regularly finding his way through traffic or around it by out-waiting defenders one-on-one in shielded puck protection off of his hip. He stays on pucks, he’s got great instincts and takes smart routes around the ice, he’s sound positionally, he applies pressure off of the puck and comes up with possession despite not being very physical, and he just always seems to be involved in positive things inside the offensive zone. His skating also continues to improve (he’s not fast, but he’s an above-average skater for his size by my measure and it shouldn’t be preventative in him reaching his NHL upside). His long stick can limit him catching and handling pucks in his feet at times, and he doesn’t have a great shot, but those things should come, he’s got soft hands and standout finesse skill as a passer, and he’s got great dexterity and reflexes all told. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
"He stays on the puck well along the boards and is hard to knock down in battles," NHL director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said. "He also understands his role at all times defensively as plays develop and he's constantly reading and identifying his options, whether that's space opening up for him to put a puck in for a moving teammate, a layer he can use as a screen for his shot or a lane he can take on an entry."
"We feel Carlsson is a bit more mature [than Michkov] and more of an NHL type of player as he is bigger and stronger," Stubb said. "Carlsson is also a better two-way player with a good knowledge of his defensive responsibilities. Both are very special players, excellent prospects and have the tools needed to be stars in the NHL in the future.
"Both played big roles on their club teams this season against seniors. It won't be easy to say who will be better in 3-5 seasons." - NHL.com