Most likely to Succeed is our newest series which points out one player from every team and explains why that player is poised to increase their point totals. While some teams may have more than one player likely to breakout and some none, we will focus on the ones who actually should improve with a full healthy season. File this article under a sleeper-type but sleepers would not be called that if people saw them coming.
Erik Karlsson finished last season with a tidy 14 points in 19 games, pretty impressive for a rookie with no AHL experience. At times the young Swedish defenseman seemed out of place and the club sent him down for more seasoning. When he returned he utilized his natural skill and let it translate in the box score.
Karlsson would look good next to Sergei Gonchar and other talents like Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. Both Gonchar and Alfredsson pose too many age-related question marks while Spezza and Milan Michalek struggle with consistency and injury. This blue-chip prospect looks like one of the best picks especially with a full summer to hone his skills and work on his strength on the puck.
Hockey’s Future ranked Karlsson 23rd overall among all their prospects and first overall among a deep Ottawa defensive pool. The surrounding of consistent defensemen coupled with plenty of competition should propel him to even greater levels and 35-40 points.