Scouting Henrik Karlsson

Justin Goldman




Hidden amidst the madness that was the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, a subtle trade took place that could have major implications on next season’s fantasy goalie scene. The Calgary Flames quietly acquired Färjestad’s Henrik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks for a sixth-round draft pick. Although he has no experience in North America, fantasy managers could really benefit from owning Karlsson, who just might be Miikka Kiprusoff's newest backup.


For a goalie that was born way back in 1983, many are led to believe that Karlsson might not be able to handle any kind of duties at the NHL level. But ask yourself this: how much would you want to spend on a 26-year-old backup for Kiprusoff? And what if you knew that backup had no pro experience in North America whatsoever? Well, by looking at his details, you'll see that Calgary could sign him for a very cost-effective price.


But why exactly do I feel Karlsson could be a shoe-in for the backup job? Two words: Jonas. Gustavsson.


Gustavsson, who was signed last summer after a breakout season with Färjestad, had quite the successful second half of his rookie NHL season. In fact, it was simply “Mastertonic” in scale. There were plenty of rough outings in the first half, but nobody could argue with his post-Olympics play. Everything I suggested at the time regarding his odds of improving came to fruition at a ridiculous rate, as all of his weaknesses sharply improved in March and April. And now, less than one year later, the sky is the limit for the highly-touted Swedish import.


Fast forward a few months later and you’ll enter a parallel universe. Gustavsson’s last name is Karlsson and Toronto is now Calgary. Both of them had the same goalie coach in Farjestad and both of them play similar styles. They both wear the same kind of pads, they both have great size. And ironically, they both pushed Vesa Toskala out of town. It's kind of eerie, it's kind of cool, but it really lends a hand to predicting what might happen next with Karlsson.


That being said, there’s very little that leads me to believe the Flames are going to sign or acquire another goalie. Why pay a 26-year-old prospect and give him performance bonuses to play in the AHL? Well, to be honest it’s not July 1 yet, so I can’t say any of this is for sure. but as of today, there’s a strong chance Karlsson claims the role.


For those concerned about Kiprusoff’s play (I personally thought he was great last season, just too complacent), what’s one of the best ways to motivate a Finnish goalie? Stick a big, thirsty Swede right behind him and let the coach start him as often as possible. That will easily light a fire under Kiprusoff and keep him from losing his edge and focus. If they were to split the workload 60-20, they could quickly re-live the good ol’ days when they had the best European tandem in the league.


As you'll see in the video, Karlsson has legit NHL skills and his chances of evolving into an NHL starter in the next 2-3 years de