When it comes to NHL Draft prospects, Swedish players are always under a microscope. This year, the top Swedish prospect is forward Leo Carlsson, who should go somewhere in the top-5. Here we’re going to go over everything you need to know about Carlsson heading into the draft on Wednesday.
2023 NHL Draft: Leo Carlsson Scouting Report
Who is Leo Carlsson?
Carlsson is an 18-year-old who has been playing professionally in Sweden since he was 17 back in the 2021-22 season. Last season in the SHL, Carlsson posted 25 points in 44 games for Orebro HK. He also added nine points in 13 playoff games. Carlsson has the size and skill set to be a top-line center in the NHL. He also has the same concerns that come with any Swedish/Euro hockey prospect. Playing on the bigger ice in Sweden can be easier on forwards. How does that translate to the smaller ice in the NHL, where the game can be more open and physical? That’s the big question mark.
Carlsson has great puck-handling skills and offensive ability. You can see him skate around smaller defenders, which again, may not always be the case in the NHL. Carlsson also uses his size well to create space and knock defenders off the puck on the forecheck. He’s able to go to the tight areas along the boards and win battles, fish the puck out and make plays. If all goes well and translates to the next level, Carlsson has a good chance of becoming a solid power scoring wing.
NHL player comparison
With all that above in mind, there are easy comparisons to fellow Swedish NHL forwards in Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks and Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators. Both possess good size and skill coupled with skating ability. Finnish and Dallas Stars center Roope Hintz comes to mind a bit. He took a little longer to develop into a top-line NHL center. Pettersson pretty much jumped right in.
Some comps in terms of SHL production include William Eklund, Alexander Holtz, Elias Lindholm and William Nylander. I think Carlsson develops into a good top-6 forward, most likely on the wing and not at center.