#71 / Center
Height: 6’1” | Weight: 189 | Born: January 8, 1993
Birthplace: Marsta, SWE | Acquired: Expansion Draft (Columbus)
Assets: Armed with excellent hockey sense and very good passing skills, he can play solidly in all three zones. Skates well and is also somewhat elusive.
Flaws: Doesn’t own ideal size for the National Hockey League, so he must continue to add more bulk to his 6-1 frame in order to maximize output.
Career Potential: Solid two-way forward with a little upside.
(Via The Hockey News)
Why You Should Know Who He Is: Karlsson has been the main driving force behind the Knights’ incessant offense... and nobody saw it coming. Seriously, though, how does a guy go from nine- and six-goal 81-game seasons to dropping 43 (!) in 82? Let’s call it one part opportunity and three parts good fortune. On the latter, Karlsson took a 7.7 career shooting percentage (in 183 games) and converted on a League-high 23.4 percent of his shots in 2017-18. Not bad. But Karlsson also saw a dramatic uptick in ice time (more than five additional minutes per game, including a hike from 12 seconds per night on the power play to 2:24) and really clicked on the top line in Vegas.
How the Caps Can Stop Him: A bit of regression may already be setting in for Karlsson, as he’s “only” shooting 13.6 percent in the playoffs. And he’s not a great face-off guy, so there are perhaps some match-up opportunities to be had off draws. But as with the rest of the Knights’ top line, it’s going to be critically important for the Caps to play well in the neutral zone, at their own blue line (give me the Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen pair, please) and be mindful of their gaps and preventing any of the trio from getting into the slot. It’s a tall task, but the Caps should be up for it.