Welcome to the 2021 Edition of the Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1997. Seven staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, Kent Basky, CanucksAbbyFan2, Markus Meyer, Noah Strang, Harsunder Singh H) and two outside writers (Daniel Gee & Cam Robinson) cast votes for the project.
When Linus Karlsson was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks back in 2019, there didn’t seem to be much promise about his NHL future.
Fast-forward to today, and the 21-year-old has quietly climbed the Canucks prospect depth chart.
Karlsson is coming off of a fantastic campaign in Sweden’s second tier hockey league, Allsvenskan. He registered 51 points in 52 games, the second-highest point total all-time by a U22 player in the league’s history.
Ever since a midseason trade to BIK Karlskoga in 2019-20, Karlsson’s game has improved dramatically. He’s registered 69 points (nice) in 64 games, after posting 40 points in his first 88 career Allsvenskan games.
Karlsson was also red hot for BIK Karlskoga in the Allsvenskan playoffs. He posted 15 points in 11 games — including five goals and nine points in his teams three final playoff contests.
Despite the success, there are two general things to note with Karlsson. Despite the improvement, Cam Robinson from Elite Prospects notes that quickness and speed is an issue for Karlsson, something he’ll have to rectify if he wants to stick in the NHL.
The other note about Karlsson is his inexplicable link to former Canucks prospect Jonathan Dahlen. While Karlsson has vastly improved his stock since the trade, Dahlen has also fared well. The 23-year-old signed a one-year, one-way contract with the San Jose Sharks in the offseason, and he’s slated to begin preseason action on a line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.
Right now, that says much more about the Sharks' desperation for skilled forwards, but that narrative could change if Dahlen sticks around with San Jose once the regular season begins. There’s a good chance this trade goes down as a mean-nothing wash (Hunter Shinkaruk for Markus Granlund, anyone?) but for now, the story is still being written.
What’s Next for Karlsson?
Karlsson signed a two-year deal with Skellefteå AIK of the SHL during the offseason. That’s significant, because the Canucks only have until next June to retain his rights. There is an out clause in his contract to come over to North America if he chooses to sign.
That’s significant because this is one of those cliche “make or break it” years for Karlsson if he envisions a future with the Canucks organization. He’s off to a good start though, registering two goals in the first four games of SHL action this season.
Karlsson is currently a right-winger on Skellefteå’s second-line. That’s somewhat significant due to the Canucks lack of centre ice depth in their organization.
However, regardless of if he plays wing or centre, there’s a good chance that he signs with the Canucks organization prior to June 1st, 2022 if he has a good season in the SHL. Considering that Karlsson is a decent prospect in an organization that’s beginning to lack depth, letting him walk for nothing wouldn’t be a wise decision if he does prove worthy of a contract.
For now, the Alex Burrows trade tree — and Karlsson’s NHL future — remains intact.