The Vancouver Canucks didn’t waste any time getting their offseason off and running. After announcing that head coach Bruce Boudreau will be back for another year behind the bench, general manager Patrik Allvin announced the signing of 22-year-old Linus Karlsson to a two-year entry-level deal.
Formerly a third-round pick by the San Jose Sharks back in 2018, he was dealt to Vancouver in 2019 for Jonathan Dahlen. “We are excited to officially welcome Linus to Vancouver,” Allvin said during the press conference Thursday.
Karlsson most notably won the rookie of the year honors in the 2021-22 season with the Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). So what can we expect of the Eksjö, Sweden native? He not only brings his scoring ability, but solid two-way play the Canucks need more of, and maybe most importantly, a low cap-hit for the next two seasons.
More Offensive Firepower Down Canucks’ Lineup
With the game evolving each and every year, offensive production has never been higher. The Canucks had a few very good contributors in that sense, but there could always be more. J.T. Miller led the team in scoring with 99 points. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes each had 68, while captain Bo Horvat and Conor Garland had 52. Outside of those five players, no other Canucks played cracked the 50-point mark. There were injuries along the way sure, but Vancouver could use a little more offense, and the hope is that Karlsson gives the Canucks more firepower down the lineup.
On top of his Rookie of the Year honors, he scored 26 goals and put up 46 points in just 52 games, leading all rookies along with being top 10 in league scoring overall. He also has a three-year run in the HockeyAllsvenskan league, split between Karlstrona HK and BIK Karlskoga, where he racked up 91 points over 100 total games.
At 6-foot-0, 178 pounds, he’ll be looking to bring that offensive presence to the Canucks for the next two years.
Karlsson Brings Solid Two-Way Game to Vancouver
Some of the most impactful players in the game today are known for their two-way game, with players including Phillip Danault, Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly. Now, I’m not not saying Karlsson will become like one those players by any means, but that’s the type of dimension that Karlsson will hopefully bring to Vancouver upon his arrival.
Upon the announcement of the signing, Allvin branched out on what Karlsson brings to the table. “He is a good goal scorer who plays a solid two-way game, and he is coming off an impressive rookie season in Sweden. We look forward to seeing him develop his game in North America.”
Karlsson had strong analytical numbers this past season, owning a Corsi For Percentage (CF%), of 56.7%. The other category Karlsson strongly improved in was his plus/minus. While the stat has its pros and cons, he was a plus-10, following a plus-26 the year prior, which speaks volumes over the entirety of a season, playing in a better league of the SHL.
He can play centre as well as right wing, which gives Vancouver versatility within the forward group.
Another Entry-Level Contract Helps Canucks’ Cap
One of the best assets a team can have in today’s NHL is flexible cap space. Whether it allows you to bring in talent through free agency, trade away big-money players, or re-sign players of your own, having that luxury benefits every team. Having another entry-level contract helps the Canucks cap in that regard.
The Canucks currently have just over $11.5 million in cap space. Karlsson’s contract coming with an average annual value (AAV), of $883,750. With the lingering contracts of Miller and Horvat and restricted free agent (RFA) Brock Boeser in need of an extension as well, Vancouver is going to need all the cap space they can get. It also helps that fellow youngsters Vasily Podkolzen and Nils Höglander are also on entry-level deals, and hopefully continue to bring in young, cheap players to balance things out. Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins were able to win multiple championships with players on team-friendly contracts, and having depth that can contribute on said contracts has shown to have plenty of success.
There is plenty of track record for Karlsson, and now that he’s inked to the Canucks for the next two seasons, we’ll see if he can transition his game over to the NHL.
I’m a London, Ontario based broadcaster and sports writer for the Vancouver Canucks. I’ve done work in the past reporting on the NHL, NBA and MLB. I’ve also covered the OHL including the Owen Sound Attack and am currently involved with the London Knights.