If you Google “Top Bruins Prospects,” and click on just about every article that has been written in the last year or so, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s name comes up generally within the top-four of a top-10 or top-15 countdown. Among those ranked ahead or around “JFK” are generally now-departed Ryan Donato, the oft-injured Anders Bjork and Zach Senyshyn, Boston’s lone 2015 first rounder who hasn’t suited up in an NHL game.
Forsbacka Karlsson is the most well-known active prospect in the Bruins system taking everything into account. Granted, the former Boston University product didn’t receive a call up when the Bruins dealt with a rash of injuries over the last few weeks, but there’s a pretty decent reason for that. The 22-year-old recently returned after a month-long battle with an upper-body injury.
The Swedish forward only skated in 20 games with the P-Bruins this year, hence the low numbers (two goals and seven assists). But another reason for the decrease in games played in Providence is because of his extended time in Boston.
Forsbacka Karlsson received two separate call ups in November and December, ultimately playing in 28 games for the big club. The second-year pro gained valuable experience at the NHL level with 28 games under his belt. His few months with the big club should bode well for the two-way center down the road.
“It was a great experience. Obviously, it’s what you strive for,” said Forsbacka Karlsson, who notched nine points (three goals, six assists) and a plus-one rating during his time in Boston. “I learned a lot while I was up there and there and I know there are things that I have to work on to get back up there.”
JFK recorded his first career NHL goal and point on Nov. 17 at Arizona after banking home a rebound from Noel Acciari past Darcy Kuemper just five seconds into his first shift of the game.
In fact, all five of Forsbacka Karlsson goals this season — between his NHL and AHL clubs — resulted in a lead for Boston and Providence.
He also has three assists on eventual game-winning goals, chipping in on Chris Wagner’s game-winner in Boston’s 5-2 win over St. Louis on Jan. 17, Gemel Smith’s overtime clincher in Providence’s 1-0 over Charlotte on Feb. 2 and on Peter Cehlarik’s tally during the Baby B’s 2-0 victory against Belleville last Friday.
With his second full season winding down, Forsbacka Karlsson sees this year as a possible step in the right direction. Yes, the numbers aren’t all that impressive, and he did have to deal with a tough injury last month. But spending a significant amount of time in Boston marked an important step in his development.
Now, JFK just has keep improving and making adjustments to truly earn a full-time slot with big club.
“I try everyday to improve my game in practice whether it’s faceoffs, shots, protecting the puck and being stronger in one-on-one situations,” JFK said. “Last year, everything was kind of new, learning the schedule and everything else, but I still learned a lot. And now, this year, being up [in Boston], it was a great experience as I was able to soak in what the older guys do and what the leaders of the team are doing.”
The P-Bruins expect Forsbacka Karlsson to lead the way in their Calder Cup Playoff push. Providence sits in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a three-point cushion over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the final playoff spot.
Having a healthy Forsbacka Karlsson is key for another postseason appearance. But the P-Bruins also need him to play up to his potential if they want to secure that final playoff spot in the Atlantic.
“We’ve got to take the things that we do well and learn from things that we don’t do well,” Forsbacka Karlsson said of what the team needs to do down the stretch. “But most importantly, it’s best if we just come together as a team over these last 10 or so games left in the season.”
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