King Henrik II?

In a rather uneventful weekend for the Calgary Flames, they managed to pull off one minor deal, sending the 163rd pick overall (6th round) to the San Jose Sharks for 6-5, 215lb. goaltender Henrik Karlsson.

The last time Darryl Sutter and the Calgary Flames hooked up with Doug Wilson and the San Jose Sharks to swap a draft pick for a tender, the Flames stole Miikka Kiprusoff. Could lightning strike twice? With Swedish goalies becoming en vogue, can the Swedish ‘behemoth’ become "King Henrik the Second"?

Ah… no… not likely. (Betchya thought I was crazy there for a second, lol).

Karlsson, 25, played last season in Farjestads BK Karlstad of the SEL, his first full season in the Elite League. He saw 1,934 minutes of action over 34 games collecting 3 shutouts with a 2.45 GAA and a .914 SV%. Some other "household" names in Farjestads: former Blues forward Lubos Bartecko, former Bruins 3rd rounder Lee Goren, former Oilers 6th rounder Dragan Umicevic, former Red Wing 9th rounder Mikael Johansson, and everyone’s favorite former Flames 1st rounder –  the immortal Jesper Mattsson.

Karlsson originally signed a one year contract with the San Jose Sharks last August. Less than two weeks ago, Karlsson signed a one year deal with the KHL’s Dynamo Riga, saying "Russia has always been a bit of a dream". Sharks fans over at Fear The Fin seemed rather bummed about this news, but I’m sure they’re "super-pumped" about turning a free agent signing that was destined for the KHL into a "sure-fire" shot-in-the-dark 6th round pick.

Here’s what The Hockey News has to say about him:
ASSETS: Has impressive size at 6-5, 215 pounds, so he can cover a lot of net. Is also strong technically and a fairly cool customer under fire.
FLAWS: Needs more experience against stronger competition in order to be ready for the NHL game. Must also work on his lateral movement.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Backup goaltender with starting upside.

Kent already shared his thoughts on the deal in his Flames 2010 Draft Review:

A huge, older goalie out of Sweden, Karlsson has never made a trip across the pond despite being 27 years old. He’s been playing in the SEL for each of the last two seasons, managing SV% of .929 and .914 respectively. He may get a look in training camp as a back-up, although his total lack of NHL experience and lack of experience even in the SEL (relative to his age) suggests to me that this is more a system depth mvoe than anything else.

While I tend to agree with Kent, I’m somehow hoping Karlsson is a diamond-in-the-rough just waiting to snatch an NHL job. Actually, if I’m going to hope for something, how about a legitimate backup goalie via trade or free agency… *THEN* we can turn the David Shantz’ and Matt Keetley’s of the world into a 1st line center… right?

Here’s an audio link for an interview FAN960’s Rob Kerr had with the newest member of the Flames

Good luck in Abbotsford, you sly-looking Swede!

Who knows… Antti Niemi was a relative unknown up until his NHL debut 16 months ago. He worked as a FREAKIN part-time zamboni driver from 2000-2005!

Oh… and I’m sure Darryl Sutter is just waiting until tomorrow to let us all know that Jason Spezza is coming to Calgary and that the reason for such delay was that Bryan Murray was adamant that Matthew Stajan and Steven Staios be apart of the deal… riiiiiiiiite…

Over/Under til Daz trades next years 1st rounder?

  • Canucks Suck

    I dunno, to me this reeks of re-uping Curtis early last year. I mean, why get this guy? Sure all it cost you was a 6’er but there are plenty of guys who’ll sign for cheap who’ve actually played in the NHL. This guy isn’t going to back out of his Russian commitment unless he get’s NHL money (or I wouldn’t at any rate) so unless your willing to offer him the back-up role here and now what’s the point?

    Bah, today (well, yesterday by date stamp)just further soured me on Mr. Milsky… Which brings me to a question… What would it take to get Darryl fired?

    • Graham

      As long as Ken King is President I don’t think Sutter will get fired. Every year we go through a top down review of the organization, but as long as King and Sutter are doing the review, it is hardly independent and largely meaningless. Do you really expect Ken or Sutter to fire themselves?

      I think the signing of another goalie gives you an indication of how the flames feel about the guys on the farm.

  • @ JF – it’ll depend on how the Flames handle this issue for me. If they ignore all the potential back-ups in the market this off-season (and there’s going to be a ton of them) in favor of gambling on Karlsson making the trip and being NHL ready…well, that doesn’t make much sense to me.

    • RCN

      Exactly. I have no qualms with them trading a 6th round pick for Karlsson. I have no issues bringing him to camp to compete for a spot. But if they get stuck with Karlsson or Shantz or someone else without at least a season in the show and they’re no good… well that is B-R-U-T-A-L. Now, if Karlsson or Shantz end up being the goods and beat out whichever journeyman tender they bring in, fine. If they earn it, they earn it, just don’t rely on one of them being a sound choice.

  • On Shantz…it should be noted he’s not currently a Flames prospect. He was brought in on a one-year, AHL only contract last season and is poised to go UFA in July.

    Now, the Flames may retain him, this time with a two-way deal. But, until then, he’s not really an option.

  • Just had a “twitter conversation” with “The Goalie Guild” of He seems pretty high on Karlsson:

    If you watch him, he will remind you a lot of Jonas Gustavsson, but his frame is much more filled out. Great size and agility.

    My favorite aspect of Karlsson’s game is his situational awareness and composure. Reads plays very well, calm execution.

  • I was fairly pumped about this move. 6’5 goalies aren’t everywhere, and he is older, which I view as a good thing. I think goalies mature later. It can’t hurt.

    Other bright spots? He is big enough he can kick JBlows ass. McG’s replacement? We could ride him as the backup for all but the 3 minutes we need him to go out and scare someone. That basically opens up a roster spot!

    As to what it would take to get Darryl fired? I don’t think the leash is as long as some. Would a 10 game losing streak to start the season (Why, that NEVER happens with the Flames) do it? Who knows.

  • I agree. If the Flames falter through the first half of the season, which is possible based on their lack of ability to score goals and rely totally on Kipper, how much longer can management not see what is plainly in front of them. So far they havd done just that. How much patience are Flames fans expected to have after all of the first round loses and last years miss of the playoffs?

  • Henrik Karlsson eh? I can’t say that I am unhappy with this acquisition, especially for a 6th rounder but time will tell.

    Karlsson gets a lot of attention because of his size, which is sometimes listed as 6’6″ but size doesn’t automatically make you a good goalie, just ask 6’7″ Ben Bishop.

    Both Gustavsson and Karlsson are coming through F√§rjestad in the Swedish Elite league, but looking at Gustavsson’s stats compared to the number two guy look much more promising than Karlsson, especially when considering Karlsson didn’t play in the playoffs…injury? /preference? I don’t know. Rahm got the starts.

    08/09 РFärjestad Elitserien
    Jonas Gustavsson – 42 1.96 .932
    Reinhard Divis – 15 2.59 .889

    09/10 РFärjestad Elitserien
    Henrik Karlsson – 34 2.45 .914
    Robin Rahm – 19 2.42 .907

    Färjestad is a good organization and has won the Elite league three of the last 8 years IIRC, with Gustavsson winning with them last year. They took a step back this year, but are competitive.

    Anyway, what little I’ve seen of Karlsson is more Trevor Kidd than Roberto Luongo although he moves similarly to both of those bigger goalies. Plodding or lumbering are the words that come to mind.

    Here is a 10 minute segment of highlights:

    Keep in mind, this is likely a lot of the ‘best of’s’ considering it doesn’t show him allow a goal.

    But it allows us to see his areas needing development that I’ve seen in other footage: His lateral movement is his poorest quality, puckhandling isn’t great and his ability to look for pucks through traffic needs to come along.

    He seems to suffer from ‘big goalie’ sydrome where he has been self taught to trust his size first, before really being detailed with movement and strong positioning. He’s deep far too often, but it doesn’t seem to hurt cause he’s huge.

    If we can get him learning footwork from Miikka, he may do well, but until then, he’ll get picked apart at the NHL level without improving his mobility.

    The likelihood we’ll see him backing up Kipper this year: ~20-30% would be my guess.

  • Good stuff Lawrence, thanks for the frank assessment. As I mentioned earlier, I hope this guy isn’t the lone option to backup Kipper heading into the season.

    For those unaware, Lawrence has experience scouting and assessing goaltenders.