Welcome back to another Vancouver Canucks prospect report here at The Hockey Writers. In this edition, we are heading overseas to check out the progress of several players including Linus Karlsson‘s continued success in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), as well as Jonathan Myrenberg and Lucas Forsell’s breakout seasons in the J20 Nationell.
We will also check in with Dmitri Zlodeyev in the MHL where he just finished a great season with his new team MHK Spartak Moskva, and take a trip to Finland to get some updates on Joni Jurmo, Toni Utunen, Lukas Jasek and Aku Koskenvuo.
That and a whole lot more as we continue to recap and analyze the top performances of prospects throughout the Canucks pipeline in this overseas edition of the prospects report. Starting with the man everyone’s talking about these days, 22-year-old forward Linus Karlsson.
Linus Karlsson, Skellefteå AIK (SHL)
What more can you say about Karlsson and his 2021-22 season in the SHL? He absolutely dominated with 26 goals and 46 points in 52 games, shattering the rookie mark set by Elias Pettersson in 2017-18 and leading his team in goals by a wide margin. Unfortunately, he could not continue his dominance in the playoffs as he only had one assist in six games along with a minus-6. Having said that, his whole team struggled in a series they initially fell behind 2-0 and 3-1, only to come back and bring it to 3-2 on Saturday (April 9) and lose 5-0 in a pivotal Game 6 on Monday (April 11).
Now that his team has been eliminated, Karlsson is free to sign with the Canucks as his current contract has an out-clause he may want to invoke. If he doesn’t get selected to join Sweden at the World Championships in May, he should be able to sign and join the Abbotsford Canucks for the playoffs and help them towards a Calder Cup in their inaugural season. The slick Swede who thrives on the power play will be a welcome addition to a lineup that could also feature Vasily Podkolzin when all is said and done.
Jonathan Myrenberg, Linköping HC J20 (J20 Nationell)
Even though he’s not getting as much ink as fellow Swede Linus Karlsson, Myrenberg is having himself a solid season in the J20 Nationell with Linköping HC. With a career-high eight goals and 31 points in 35 regular-season games and four goals and eight points in the playoffs, he’s starting to rise up the ranks when it comes to defensive prospects in the Canucks’ system.
Selected all the way down in the fifth round at 140th overall during the 2021 NHL Draft, Myrenberg has displayed tremendous poise and offensive upside in his first full season in the J20 Nationell. Second only to 2022 Draft top prospect Mattias Havelid and undrafted Martin Schreiber in goals and points respectively, he’s made a name for himself as a point producer, especially at even strength where he finished with six goals and 12 points.
Myrenberg was dominant in the J20 Nationell playoffs where he was second only to Havelid in goals and points. He was at a point-a-game pace and finished the postseason on a three-game point streak where he fired 14 shots on goal and recorded two goals and four points. With his and Havelid’s production, Linköping managed to win their pre-qualification, quarterfinal, semi-final and final to become the 2022 Anton Cup champions (or J20 SM Gold Medal). In fact, he was on the scoreboard in the single-elimination game where he scored a goal in his team’s 5-2 victory.
Slated to start 2022-23 in the SHL where he was pointless in 15 games this season, Myrenberg will look to develop further as a legitimate prospect for the Canucks moving forward.
Lucas Forsell, Färjestad BK J20 (J20 Nationell) & Färjestad BK (SHL)
To round out this dominant Swedish contingent, Forsell has also climbed the rankings in the Canucks’ pipeline in 2021-22. Yet another intriguing late-round draft pick in 2021, he made the best out of a bad situation with Färjestad BK J20, leading his team with 15 goals and 34 points in 35 games, all while on a team that only won eight times all season. He is currently helping them avoid relegation by scoring three goals and seven points in the ongoing J20 Nationell qualifying series.
The 18-year-old Västerås native has also suited up for 30 games in the SHL for Färjestad BK’s pro squad, accumulating four goals and six points. Head coach Johann Pennerborn elevated him up the lineup to a third-line role with second-unit power-play time at the beginning of February, where he scored goals in back-to-back games. As reported by The Athletic’s Harman Dayal, only Jonathan Lekkerimäki, who will most likely be selected in the top-15 in the upcoming 2022 Draft, has made any significant impact in the SHL among players who are under the age of 19 (from ‘Canucks prospect stock watch 2022: Who’s up, who’s down in Vancouver’s farm system?’ The Athletic, 2/22/22). That’s pretty impressive for a guy that just turned 18 in September of last year.
While Forsell’s skill set is still raw, he’s shown some encouraging strides in his career so far. His shot looks NHL-ready and his hockey IQ is considered one of his greatest attributes. Considering you can’t teach that, he could have a future as a bottom-six forward in the vein of a Nils Hoglander or Jannik Hansen. As many have pointed out already, he’s a long-term piece of the Canucks who likely won’t be seen in North America for a while. Until then, we will marvel from afar as he hopefully develops into another gem in the system.
Arvid Costmar, Linköping HC (SHL)
Hugo Gabrielson, Västerviks IK (HockeyAllsvenskan)
Hugo Gabrielson struggled to find his offensive game in his first season in the HockeyAllsvenskan. In 40 games, he only put up three assists along with a plus-6 in the plus/minus column. The mobile 6-foot-1 defenceman who was drafted 169th overall in 2021 has all the tools to become a good defender in the NHL. Hopefully, he can find his legs when he transitions to the SHL full-time next season.
Dmitri Zlodeyev, Khimik Voskresensk (VHL) & MHK Spartak Moskva (MHL)
Travelling away from Sweden and into the Russian leagues, Zlodeyev’s move to a new team in the MHL paid immediate dividends as he hit the ground running with 17 goals and 34 points in his first 18 games. The dynamic two-way center continues to impress overseas as a possible future third-line pivot for the Canucks as he finished the season fourth in team scoring despite playing only 18 games. To put his production into perspective, their leading scorer was Vadim Fattakhov with 54 points in 58 games. If Zlodeyev played an entire season with them, he would have eclipsed those totals by a wide margin.
Unfortunately, Zlodeyev and his team couldn’t make any noise in the MHL Playoffs as they were swept by Krasnaya Armiya Moskva after finishing the season on a six-game winning streak. He ended up recording two assists and 15 shots on goal in the three games while playing over 20 minutes a night. For the most part, MHK Spartak Moskva were outclassed as they were outscored 14-6 over the best-of-five series.
Joni Jurmo, Jukurit (Liiga)
Over to Finland, 2020 third-round pick Joni Jurmo had an up and down season for Jukurit in the Liiga. His production slowed to a crawl once the calendar flipped to 2022 as he only scored one goal and two assists in 20 games. His ice time also took a dive from over 20 minutes a night in the first half of the season to less than 12 in the second half. All told, he finished his first full season in the Liiga with two goals and ten points in 50 games.
Not known too much for his massive point production, Jurmo has always been touted as a good, mobile two-way defenceman with good instincts. He showed that most of the time this season, as he rebounded from a minus-11 rating in 20 games last season to a solid plus-10 in 2021-22. He also seemed to gain the trust of the coaching staff as he played big minutes for most of the first half of the season.
Despite Jurmo’s lack of production later in the season, he still made progress from his first stint in the league by showing more confidence in his game, so that should bode well for the future. For a team woefully short of defencemen with his size and skillset, they need him to hit one day as a regular in the NHL. He made massive strides in that department, even though the numbers didn’t show it.
Lukas Jasek, Pelicans (Liiga)
Toni Utunen, Pelicans (Liiga)
Alongside Jasek, Utunen had a solid campaign playing big minutes in the top-four and supplying his usual sound defensive game. Even though he still didn’t put up a lot of points, he had a career year offensively with four goals and 11 points in 59 games. He also bounced back in the plus/minus column by sporting a plus-1 from a minus-6 last season. When, not if he makes it to the NHL, the 5-foot-11 Kokkola native should be a good partner for a more offensive right-side defenceman that will hopefully join the team’s ranks very soon.
Aku Koskenvuo, HIFK U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
To finish off our Finnish updates, let’s travel to the U20 SM-sarja and HIFK U20’s Aku Koskenvuo. He didn’t have a banner season by any means finishing with a subpar 2.79 goals-against average (GAA) and .897 save percentage (SV%), but the former 2021 fifth-round pick has reportedly shown significant improvement in his overall mechanics.
Previously reported by David Quadrelli of Canucks Army, the summer video sessions via Zoom with goaltending guru Ian Clark seem to have paid off. With Mikey DiPietro and Arturs Silovs seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart, if he can continue his positive upswing in the NCAA for Harvard University, he could find himself on the top of the pile in no time. He certainly has the size (6-foot-4) and athleticism to do it after all.
That does it for another edition of the Canucks prospects report. Stay tuned for the inaugural edition of the Canucks Prospects Awards where I will shine the spotlight on a few standouts from the 2021-22 season as everyone’s respective campaigns draw to a close.
All stats were taken from Elite Prospects and are current as of April 11, 2022
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.