Ahead of the 2015-16 season, William Karlsson had one objective in mind: to make the Blue Jackets’ roster out of training camp.
Although the season didn’t start off or end the way the team wanted it to, the 23-year-old center said he did what he set out to do and was able to find some positive takeaways from an otherwise disappointing season.
“For the season, my goal was to make the team and I made it,” Karlsson told BlueJackets.com. “Obviously, I wanted to contribute when I made it. Getting my first season under my belt feels pretty good.”
Karlsson was selected 53rd overall by Anaheim in the 2011 NHL Draft and played 18 games for the Ducks during the 2014-15 season. He was acquired by Columbus on Mar. 2, 2015, alongside Rene Bourque and a 2015 second-round pick, in a deal that sent James Wisniewski to Anaheim.
In his brief debut season with Columbus, Karlsson scored one goal and added one assist in three games played for the Blue Jackets; he also suited up for the team’s former AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, for 15 games.
The 2015-16 campaign marked Karlsson’s first full NHL season. In 81 games, he scored nine goals and added 11 assists for 20 points. Karlsson felt he played well defensively - earning the trust of coach John Tortorella is evidence of that - but moving forward, he hopes to contribute more on the offensive end.
The Marsta, Sweden, native signed a new two-year deal with the Blue Jackets in late June, and plans to spend the majority of the summer in his homeland. Karlsson said he will use his time to visit with family and friends before cranking up the training and conditioning for the upcoming season.
“I handle the defensive game pretty well,” Karlsson said. “So the next step for me is trying to score more. I just hope I can be better next year, take another step and hopefully play more offensively.”
As one of the younger players on an already-young team, Karlsson said throughout the difficult season, the key was to simplify his approach and try to get a positive result out of each game. Like all of his teammates, he hopes the 2015-16 campaign serves as a humbling reminder moving forward.
“It was really tough there in the beginning,” Karlsson said. “As a young player, all you can try to do is focus on the task and try to stay positive, even though it’s really hard when you lose so many games, but hopefully we learn something from this and we can have a better start next year and hopefully make the playoffs.”