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Size, Smarts Bolster Prospect Carlsson's Potential

by Derek Marshall / Colorado Avalanche is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida on June 26-27. Gabriel Carlsson is the No. 2-ranked European skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the 10th overall selection at the draft.

With a high hockey IQ and a big frame, Gabriel Carlsson could have a promising future as a solid defenseman in the NHL.

At 6-foot-4 and 183 pounds, the left-shot defender plays big and smart and is considered a stay-at-home defenseman with a good reach,” wrote Mike Morreale in his mock draft. “He plays a safe game and has become very reliable while rising in the international ranks. He uses his size and strength in a smart way.”

NHL Central Scouting's director of European scouting, Goran Stubb, acknowledges that Carlsson has a fundamentally sound game and notices the improvements that he has made over the past year.

“Carlsson is a tall, physically strong two-way defenseman who has improved a lot during the season. He plays a smart, cool, mature game and uses his size without being overly aggressive,” Stubb said in his analysis of the No.2-ranked European skater in Central Scouting's final rankings. “A smart player who can both pass or play the puck out of danger.”

Carlsson, who was born and raised in Orebro, Sweden, gained valuable experience playing in multiple international competitions, including the 2014 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, the 2015 Five Nations Tournament and the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

During the 2014-15 season, the young Swede spent the majority of his time on the Linkoping’s junior club. He tallied seven assists and had a plus-21 rating over the course of 39 games, helping his team to the bronze medal in the SuperElit league.

His play was impressive enough that he got called up to skate for Linkoping’s professional team in the Swedish Hockey League, competing in seven regular season and 10 playoff games. His impact was felt mainly on the defensive side of the ice, but he also provided a little offense. He finished with three assists and a plus-5 rating during the course of his short stint with Linkoping’s SHL squad.

Carlsson also skated a little bit in the Swedish under-18 Allsvenskan league during the season. Though he didn't play much, he made enough of an impact to be named the best defenseman by the league after registering two goals and three assists in seven games.

The potential is there for the already-talented Carlsson to make a name for himself in North America. If he can keep improving his game and use his size to his advantage, he could become a shutdown defenseman in the NHL one day.

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