The later rounds of the draft are always tough to get worked up about because the odds of a player from rounds 4-8 turning into a quality NHL player are somewhat low. That being said, some GMs have an eye for finding talent in the later rounds while and draft prospects who turn into quality role players at the NHL level. Sometimes it depends on the GM, the scouting staff and other times it is just plain old luck. Almost every draft has a few late round picks who go on to do great things in the pros but it usually takes years before we find out if they are any good and a lot of times, these players don’t even stay with the team that originally drafted them. It’s just really tough to tell how any of these players will turn out right now.
The Hurricanes had six picks in the last four rounds of the draft this year, including three in the fourth round alone, so there is a good chance that they could end up with one of these steals but it still feels like a major crap shoot. The Canes already reached on one player, so the smart thing to do would be to take the safer round in the last four rounds but it ultimately won’t have too much of an impact. If anyone one of the players they took in the last four rounds turns into a useful NHL-er, then that would be a victory in my eyes.
They started off the fourth round with somewhat of a safe pick by selecting forward Erik Karlsson with the 99th overall selection. Karlsson might share the same name with the Ottawa Senators defenseman who just won the Norris, but he is very, very different from him. He is pegged as a speedy two-way forward with decent puck-handling skills. He is also said to be a terrific skater and was actually ranked high on some blogger’s lists for that reason. One person who was high on him was Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus, who had him ranked at #54 in his Top 100 Prospects Feature. Here’s what he had to say about Karlsson.
“This skilled forward bears a strikingly familiar name, but I can’t place my finger on where I’ve heard it before. Oh well, if it was a hockey player, he probably wasn’t anyone good. Karlsson is a solid skater, although arguably a grade above. He’s a good all-around mover with impressive edge control, a fluid stride, easy power off his push offs, and he gets up to speed quickly. Karlsson is a pretty skilled player who creates a lot with the puck, regularly displaying above-average hands or better anytime the puck gets on his stick. His open ice moves seem to come effortlessly to him as while he has some flash to his game, his puck-handling also gives off the impression that he is in control. Karlsson knows where he needs to go in the offensive zone, sees the ice well, and doesn’t seem to have a true hole in his offensive game. He also positions himself fine in his own end. He’s a small guy, who needs a boat load of strength and probably will be replacement level at best physically at his peak even though he does attempt to at least engage himself in battles.”
International Scouting Services was less optimistic but praised his skating ability.
A very energetic and explosive two-way player, “the other Erik Karlsson” can really push opponents into making mistakes. He is a great skater with good hands, strong vision and reaction skills and some determination regardless of the role he is playing. He plays a fearless style of physical game despite his smaller frame and hits to win the puck. Karlsson has a very good head for the game and has proven a versatile and dynamic prospect.
Karlsson has yet to play professional at any level and spent last season with Frolunda’s junior team in Sweden, scoring 11 goals and 33 points in 57 games. This shows that while he has a lot of skill, it has yet to translate into results on-ice. His size probably prevents him from being as effective as he could be, so that might be why he hasn’t scored at too high of a level. Pronman also says that he probably will only be replacement level at best, which doesn’t make me too confident about how his future but he appears to have all the right tools to make it in the show. His weight and strength limitations must be more of a detriment to his game than they are to other players. Regardless, I think this is a good pick because Karlsson has time to get stronger and improve his physical game. He’s got good potential and is definitely worth a 4th round pick for Carolina.