2015 NHL Draft Profile #33: Gabriel Carlsson

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Gabriel Carlsson spent the majority of the season with Linkopings Under-20 junior squad, but also got a quick call-up to play against men in the SHL.  He picked up two assists in a seven-game stint with the big club. He made enough of an impression to get in 10 playoff games, and picked up another assist. He has been a regular on Swedish international teams, playing in the 2014 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, the 2014 Ivan Hlinka tournament, the 2014 Four Nations, the 2015 Five Nations and the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Carlsson is ranked as the second-best skater amongst European based players by NHL Central Scouting. He was also named the best defenceman in the Swedish J18 Allsvenskan this past season.

Gabriel Carlsson

Defense — shoots Left
Born Jan 2 1997 — Orebro, Sweden
Height 6.04 — Weight 183 [193 cm/83 kg]

The best part of Gabriel Carlsson’s game, is his play in his own end of the rink.  He has excellent positioning, and his hockey IQ is very high.  He anticpates plays well, cutting down passing lanes with a long stick, and creating transitions with a good first pass. Carlsson’s big body is an asset as he is willing to play a physical game, throwing hits, fighting for loose pucks, and clearing the front of the net. He battles hard every shift and is willing to do whatever it takes to win games. He doesn’t throw a lot of big hits, but is very involved in the dirty areas of the ice and is willing to take a hit to make a play. Carlsson is more than willing to put his body on the line and block shots. He could stand to add muscle to his huge frame though, as he is extremely lanky right now. He is very good on the penalty kill, as his big frame and long stick really cut down on options for the attacking team.

Offensively, what you see is what you get with Gabriel Carlsson.  He doesn’t handle the puck much, preferring to move it quickly to a teammate rather than skate it up the ice.  He does have good passing skills, and can make a good first pass on the breakout, or the long breakaway pass to a streaking teammate.  He is very much a stay at home defender though, and is not likely to even join the rush as a trailer very often.  Carlsson does have a decent slapshot when he gets the chance to unleash it, but lacks the instincts in the offensive zone to create opportunities for himself.

Gabriel Carlsson is a good skater for his size.  He has a good long stride and generates above average speed and acceleration. Carlsson has good balance and can be tough to knock off the puck when playing against his peers, but needs to add some lower body strength to improve on this before transitioning to playing the game against men.  He also has decent agility,  pivots, and edgework which combined with his good backwards skating speed makes him difficult to beat in one-on-one situations.

Gabriel Carlsson has the frame and hockey IQ that will make him very attractive in the NHL draft.  He has the potential to be a top four shutdown defender if he is able to reach his maximum ceiling.  His game is reminiscent of Marc Staal of the New York Rangers, though this is a stylistic comparison only, and not one based on talent.

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