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Forsbacka Karlsson Practices for First Time With B's

The 20-year-old forward is excited to kick off his pro career

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson knows well what it's like to suit up for a hockey team in Boston, having starred the last two years for Boston University.

But on Tuesday morning, the 2015 second-round pick had to travel a few more exits down Storrow Drive to hit the ice.

Forsbacka Karlsson decided over the weekend to forego the final two years of his college career and sign a three-year entry-level contract with the Bruins. He joined the team for his first practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena, donning the No. 23 on the back of his helmet.

"It's very exciting right now," said Forsbacka Karlsson, who was taken by the Bruins with the 45th overall selection in 2015. "It's been a couple different kinds of days here, but it's nice to get the first practice done with. It's different, for sure. It's a little overwhelming, but it's really exciting. I'm very excited to be here right now.

"It's a lot of parts that go into it. I felt like this was the right move for me, the right time to come into the Bruins organization. You kind of think through stuff a little bit and you come to that decision."

Video: Forsbacka Karlsson speaks after first Bruins practice

The 20-year-old forward is currently considered a non-roster player and is not available for NHL games until he receives immigration approval.

"I knew beforehand that there was going to be a little bit of a process. I knew that before," said the Stockholm, Sweden, native. "They have to change the status. I'm a student, technically, at BU, so they have to change it. The Bruins are working on that right now.

"It's still a little process…you've got to go through that and it's up to the coaches and everything [to decide when he plays]. We'll take it from there."

Until those matters are cleared up, Forsbacka Karlsson will be focused on adjusting himself to the pro lifestyle. That process kicked off Tuesday when he began meeting his new teammates and coaches.

"That was a real smooth transition to get in at the end of the year here and just kind of see some of the guys and get to know the coaching staff," said the 6-foot-1, 192-pounder.

The pace of the NHL game will also take some getting used to.

"It's a lot faster, a lot faster decisions, everything goes a lot faster," said Forsbacka Karlsson. "That's what I'm expecting. It's obviously a lot more mature play, more skilled players, faster, stronger. It's just a step up from everything."

Video: Catching up with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson

Forsbacka Karlsson recently wrapped up his sophomore season, during which he served as the Terriers alternate captain. He posted 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points, while compiling a plus-11 rating in 39 games. BU was 9-0-1 when he scored.

Over two seasons on Comm. Ave., Forsbacka Karlsson tallied 24 goals and 39 assists in 78 games.

"I had an amazing time at BU," said Forsbacka Karlsson, who was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team last season. "I improved my game a lot in all areas, getting stronger, faster, making better decisions on the ice. I think the coaching staff and the teammates that I had there had a big impact on me."

One of those teammates is fellow Bruins prospect Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy recently signed an Amateur Tryout Agreement with the Providence Bruins, for whom he notched a pair of assists over his first two games last weekend.

"When you know guys in the organization, that makes it a little easier, but that didn't really have much of an impact on the decision," said Forsbacka Karlsson. "But it's nice to have someone in the organization that you know a little bit."

Forsbacka Karlsson is considered a terrific two-way, right-shot center and has drawn comparisons to Bruins pivot Patrice Bergeron, one of the players the 20-year-old has tried to model his game after.

"First of all, it's very flattering every time you hear something like that," Forsbacka Karlsson said of being compared to Bergeron. "But just being around the guy and seeing what he does, it's going to be an amazing opportunity for me.

"I watch a lot of those guys who play a two-way game…obviously Bergeron is one of the best in the league at that. But guys like [Jonathan] Toews and [Anze] Kopitar are guys you watch and try to learn.

"But it's tough to compare yourself to guys like that, but those are the guys you learn from."

Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted he has not seen Forsbacka Karlsson play much, but was impressed with what the youngster displayed during a limited sample size on Tuesday.

"He [skated] well out there today, looks smooth distributing the puck, skating, hands," said Cassidy. "I guess that would be it for now without seeing him battle or live action. From what I hear, he's got a good stick, a good two-way player, heady player. His skills look good, good size."

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