Anaheim prospect William Karlsson is finally in North America after HV71’s season ended. He’s been reassigned from the Swedish club to Norfolk. Let’s take a look.
Norfolk’s low-scoring offense– 2 goals in 2 games this past weekend- may have gotten a bit of a boost on Monday. William Karlsson, a 2011 second round pick of the Ducks, has spent the past three seasons in both of Sweden’s top leagues. Most recently, he was part of the club HV71. During the 2013-14 campaign, Karlsson put up 15+22=37 points. He was somewhat effective in the SHL playoffs as well, scoring 3+4=7 points in 8 games. With that kind of scoring touch, he is expected to provide a scoring touch with the Admirals.
In a matter of fate, Karlsson may be called on to replace another Swedish center, Rickard Rakell. Originally called up as an injury replacement for Nick Bonino, Rakell has made a positive impact on Bruce Boudreau and the Ducks’ coaches. In the month of March, Rakell has only been under 50% CF once. That was the last game against Vancouver, in which he had a 37.5% O-Zone start. In other words, when given generous zone starts, Rakell has kept play in the offensive zone. Granted, he has not played much, averaging 11.3 minutes per game. With positive attributes like that, Rakell may be with the Ducks for a long time.
As a result, the Admirals have lacked a true 1C to play alongside Devante Smith-Pelly and Emerson Etem. A number of things have been tried, including Devo at center with another winger such as Andre Petersson or Max Friberg. While these have been okay, nothing seems to match the skill of the “NHL Line” when it is together. On Saturday, Trent Yawney had a big gamble on the first line. He put in new acquisition Matt Bailey at center, which is kind of weird when you consider that Bailey is listed as a right winger. Karlsson’s arrival makes me think that one of two things will happen.
The first is that the top line will have DSP and Etem centered by Karlsson, a naturally skilled center who may create some offensive pop. A second solution may be this: the coaching staff may decide to bring back the Swedish line. They tried it once before, with Max Friberg and Andre Petersson on either side of Rickard Rakell. If memory serves, it lasted a game. With a European trying to adjust to a North American game, the coaches may bring it back and put Karlsson in the middle. I don’t think either is a particularly bad strategy, Karlsson will still have skilled forwards with which to work.
Karlsson’s addition creates a shockwave throughout the lineup, of course. What will be most interesting is what happens to Chris Wagner, David Steckel, and John Kurtz. All three players have been used as centers, with Wagner near the top, Steckel as a defensive stalwart at third, and Kurtz always on the 4th line. Wagner and Kurtz have both played wing in the past. Kurtz is the most likely to move as I believe the coaches value Wagner’s presence on face offs. All of this is a guess, of course, and the coaches could put Karlsson as a 3rd line winger.
The playoff push is here and it is real and your enemy is the Hershey Bears Hockey Club. Currently, the Admirals hold a one point lead over the Bears with the same number of games played. While Norfolk’s magic number is 18, Hershey’s is 20. The phrase “every point is valuable” (or some variation) will definitely make itself known. Norfolk and Hershey are both on road this week.
Norfolk Schedule: Adirondack, Binghamton, Hartford
Hershey schedule: Portland, Worcester, Bridgeport
Norfolk gets the worst hand, being dealt the division leading Binghamton Senators. On the other hand, they are playing the worst team in the AHL in Adirondack. Norfolk needs to come away from this weekend with five points due to their poor performance against the Penguins. Hershey has a better chance at taking points, playing some of the worst teams in the conference and league. Worcester might surprise the Bears–don’t count on it. Nine games remain.
On the post about ATOs, I wrote that HV71 had made a tribute video to William Karlsson. I got a comment about it, from someone named “Mr. T”. He said ( all sic’d):
The Tribiut video for William Karlsson is a intern joke about Justin Biber “belibers”. People in Sweden call his followers “willibers” and the joke moved on that way.
Beside that he was a favorit amongst HV71fans (the best player in the team this season), he also where very popular amongst teanage girls in Jönköping.
Give him the benefit of the doubt as English is not his first language, please. Anyway, that’s a great comment and I thank you for it, “Mr. T”.
William Karlsson will wear #22…. Karlsson is already on a contract with the Ducks, and will burn a year of his ELC….