The 1st Ohio Battery prospect series continues with our No. 15 prospect, Swedish winger Marcus Karlberg.
Reason for Ranking
Karlberg was a player we as a group were very split on. I ranked him as the No. 6 prospect on my list while he didn’t crack either Dan’s or Sam’s list. Karlberg was a third round pick this past draft by the Jackets out of the Leksands IF J20 program in Sweden.
Karlberg in his first full season in the SuperElit was really good. In 39 games he scored 15 goals and added 32 assists. His 47 points ranked 7th in the league and his 1.21 points per game was fourth among players who played in at least 20 games.
Karlberg played two games in the Allsvenskan where he scored a goal.
Karlberg is small listed at 5-foot-7, 165 lbs. That makes it very difficult to project him. Only five players in the NHL this season were 5-7 or shorter, Brian Gionta, David Desharnais, Alex DeBrincat, Rocco Grimaldi and Nathan Gerbe. The hope with Karlberg is that his skill level is enough to make up for his smaller stature.
Karlberg will be back in Sweden for this upcoming season and ideally he will grab a regular spot in the Allsvenskan. He can clearly play with his age group but he needs to be challenged in a pro league to see if he can play professionally at his size. This season is going to be crucial for his development. If he can play and succeed in the Allsvenskan his NHL projection looks that much more promising.
Best Case Scenario
The best case scenario for Karlberg is he becomes one of those players mentioned above. He doesn’t have the shot to be a DeBrincat, but he could very easily be an early career Gionta; someone who overcomes their size disadvantage and is a solid half point per game player. Desharnais is nice comparable as well. Both Desharnais and Gionta were good junior players who had to work and grind their way to the NHL. They had to spend their time in the AHL, Desharnais even spending a season in the ECHL, but they kept succeeding and found their way to the NHL.
Karlberg can follow that same path. It’s going to take time, but he has success professionally in Sweden that will make his transition to the North American game easier. He is going to need a couple seasons in the AHL when he does come over, but again, if his skills can play he will eventually find himself as an NHL regular.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Karlberg is a strong playmaker who makes players around him better. Canucks Army profiled him prior to the draft and found that of 20 comparable players, 31.6% went on to be NHL players, including Gustav Nyquist and Carl Hagelin. Karlberg is quick and shifty and has good awareness on the ice. The concern with him as it is for all players of this size, is his skill level high enough to beat the odds? He lacks strength and isn’t going to win many if any battles on the boards or in front of the net.
Karlberg has to add strength and has to prove he can play and succeed in a professional league. If he can do that, he will shoot up these rankings next summer.
Follow 1st Ohio Battery