Bruins’ Forsbacka Karlsson to Return to Sweden for 2019-20 Season

The Boston Bruins are losing one of their best young prospects for the near future as Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has decided to return to Sweden to be closer to his family for the 2019-20 season. Forsbacka Karlsson intends on signing a contract to play for Vaxjo of the SHL but fully intends on returning to the Bruins in the future.

|Jakob will continue his professional hockey career and development in the SHL and we support his decision to be closer to his family at this time in his life,” said general manager Don Sweeney. “Over the past few weeks, Jakob has also communicated that he fully intends to resume playing for the Bruins, but for right now he feels playing at home in Sweden is what is best for him.”

This might be the best course of action for all parties involved. For the Bruins, Forsbacka Karlsson was sliding slowly down their depth chart and with Jack Studnicka on the way next season, the depth chart wasn’t getting any kinder to him.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson - Bruins
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Boston Bruins, September 17, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

At the same time, Forsbacka Karlsson looked lost at times this season, even throughout the course of a game. If something is going on in his personal life or if he feels he needs to spend some time sorting out his priorities, that’s a mature decision for the 22-year-old to make as he figures out the best course of action for his career.

It may seem concerning for the Bruins to lose a player that was hyped as such a big part of their future but that wouldn’t be the right way to frame the situation regardless. In reality, this move doesn’t seem permanent according to both Sweeney and Forsbacka Karlsson and this is as good as prospects can be handled in a situation like this.

Forsbacka Karlsson Had a Roller Coaster-Like Season

Forsbacka Karlsson would split his time evenly in Boston and in Providence this season, finding similar success in both leagues. In 28 games with Providence, Forsbacka Karlsson would score seven goals and 16 points. He’d also play in four postseason games though he was held off of the scoresheet. In 28 NHL games, the Stockholm-native would score three goals and nine points in 28 games but failed to consistently show enough to keep the role.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins would eventually swing a trade to bring Charlie Coyle into the fray to help bolster their third line center spot. This was directly as a result of Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Donato and even Trent Frederic still being too inexperienced to carry the mantle for the 2018-19 season. This proved to be the right call as the Bruins are now scheduled to play in the Stanley Cup Final, but it still left the future of Forsbacka Karlsson up in the air.

Related: Coyle Traded to Bruins for Donato

It was weird seeing Forsbacka Karlsson struggle this season, especially considering he had a solid rookie campaign in Providence with 15 goals and 32 points in 58 games. That production came after he would score 24 goals and 66 points in 78 games at Boston University over his two seasons in the NCAA. Touted by many as the next Patrice Bergeron, there was a lot to like about what the Bruins’ second-round pick from 2015 had to show early on.

If there is something going on that the fans and media aren’t privy to in Forsbacka Karlsson’s personal life, then the hope is that his return to Sweden can fix this. Either way, the Bruins have to plan for the 2019-20 season and beyond as if Forsbacka Karlsson isn’t there and with no shortage of options in the system already, the Bruins should handle this accordingly.