There have been no shortage of Americans in our look at #25-31 on the Central Scouting Service's final rankings for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. On our last day of draft profiles, we leave the United States to examine a Swedish prospect with a lot of promise, but a lot of room for improvement: Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson
#31 - Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson - Center - Omaha Lancers (USHL)
2014-15 Stats: 50 GP, 15 G, 38 A, 38 PIMs
A native of Stockholm, Forsbacka-Karlsson played in Swedish youth leagues until the 2013-14 season, when he traveled to the United States to play for Omaha. He will take his talents to the NCAA next season when he joins Boston University.
Forsbacka-Karlsson managed to improve his production totals from last season (11 G, 22A in 2013-14) despite playing ten fewer games this season due to injury. Here's what Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects has to say about Forsbacka-Karlsson's skillset:
A player who has worked hard at his all-around game, but needs to gain more consistency. That being said, he can be an offensively effective center; possesses a high level of hockey intelligence and plays with intensity. A smooth, yet not dynamic skater. An excellent passer; can turn a "nothing doing" play into a scoring chance.
The Arizona Coyotes may want to be wary about using their other first rounder to take the Swede, as his overall rankings on other draft lists put Forsbacka-Karlsson far lower than where the CSS ranks him. There are definitely legitimate questions about his offensive upside, despite the high marks he receives for his two-way ability.
At 6'1" and 190 pounds, Forsbacka-Karlsson will have a chance to round into shape in college. There are definite question marks about the offensive side of his game, as AJ Haefele mentions in his profile of Forsbacka-Karlsson for BSN Denver:
Production is obviously a question mark as he’s been a little on the older side for the USHL and didn’t dominate the way you might expect him to. Consistency is a real issue as he can rip off 5-point games just as easily as disappear for two weeks at a time. At the moment he could stand to bulk up a bit more as he’s not on the smaller side but does not use his frame effectively, especially when he has the puck. A little too easy to play against right now.
The Swede has established himself as a faceoff ace, but physicality in the NHL is a must if Forsbacka-Karlsson ends up playing in a checking role on the bottom six like a Vernon Fiddler, Eric Belanger, or Boyd Gordon. Bottom six players are important, as are faceoff specialists. But is the first round the right place to seek out that player?
With this draft choice, the Coyotes can afford to take a risk. They have four first rounders in the next two drafts, and there is no real consensus among draft projections as to which players should be chosen at the end of the first round.
The Coyotes may want to gamble on a prospect with a high ceiling to improve the overall talent in their prospect pool. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson may turn into a good NHL player, but he may not be the right player for the Coyotes.