The comparisons have seemingly always been there for Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.
The Bruins opted to draft the Swedish forward with the 45th pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, with Don Sweeney and Boston’s management jumping on the opportunity to reel in a skilled center lauded for his cerebral style of play and two-way potential.
Remind you of anyone on the Black and Gold?
Labeled as “Patrice Bergeron 2.0″ by Bruins defenseman and former Boston University teammate Matt Grzelcyk, Forsbacka Karlsson has the polish to be a reliable center in today’s NHL — and he might just get his chance this fall.”He has an immense ability,” Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach said. “I guess the way I’d describe it, his skill level does set him apart from a lot of people. I think he’d say it and we’ve talked at length about his year last year and where he had to come from and where he has to get to.
“He learned the pro game last year. He’s going to have the ability to make an impact here, whether it’s right away or in the near future, just really because of his skillset.”
Among the field of potential candidates for the Bruins’ vacant third-line center position, Forsbacka Karlsson holds the edge over fellow prospects like Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic in terms of experience in the system.
After skating with the Terriers for two seasons, Forsbacka Karlsson inked an entry-level deal with the Bruins back in April 2017 — appearing in Boston’s regular-season finale against the Washington Capitals.
The 21-year-old skater then spent all of last season down with Providence, tallying 32 points in 58 games while missing a chunk of the year while recovering from a concussion.
Forsbacka Karlsson projects as a reliable, skilled center up in the pro ranks, but Leach did note that “JFK” had to adjust to the more physical style of the AHL — a transition that most players go through over the course of an entire season.What we worked on last year was really his 200-foot game,” Leach said of Forsbacka Karlsson. “He was playing against younger players and when you play against men, you have to be harder on pucks and close quickly. It’s almost unfair, but we compare everyone to (Patrice) Bergeron, but at the same time it’s great.
“It sets a level, it sets a standard that all these kids are trying to get to. So if you were to compare him to Bergy, that’s what he’s working on, the ability to close, to compete on pucks and then let his offensive instincts take over.”
Given his pedigree and potential, Forsbacka Karlsson is expected to compete for the Bruins’ vacant pivot position over the next couple of weeks, joining both Frederic and Studnicka for the team’s upcoming preseason trip to China.
“I feel like it’s always going to be a competition during camp,” Forsbacka Karlsson said Thursday. “That’s what it’s always about. It’s going to be a fun trip and it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to show my game.”
Leach isn’t the one burdened with the responsibility of choosing the Bruins’ new third-line center — but did add that Forsbacka Karlsson, Frederic and Studnicka all leave a distinct impact on a game whenever they skate out on the ice.”JFK has high-end skill. He can make high-end plays. You can put him with some real skilled players and he’ll be able to make plays,” Leach said. “Freddy, he’s a little bit more old school.
“He’s more up and down (the ice). He can make plays and by no means is he lacking in the skill front. But he has a little bit more of an abrasive style. He’s going to be hard down low. What little I’ve seen of Jack, he’s probably a cross between the two of them. So if we could just morph them all into one, we’d have a heck of a player.”