Karl Henriksson impressed, a future on Broadway soon?
The Traverse City Tournament has reached its conclusion and Rangers fans got a great look at the future of this franchise. Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov and Adam Fox stole the show and Igor Shesterkin showed flashes of a franchise goaltender in the making. But, one of the most impressive prospects throughout the tournament was 2019 second-round pick, Karl Henriksson.
Henriksson flashed his offensive ability and tied for the Rangers team lead in scoring with five points – with the aforementioned Kravtsov and Fox. With the second line center of the future being a hot debate among Rangers fans, Henriksson just might be that guy when his career with Frolunda ends.
After learning the other day that Henriksson would be heading back to Frolunda for the upcoming season, it negated any chance he had of competing for a spot at this year’s training camp. That being said, competing for a place on David Quinn’s 2020-21 roster is not out of the question.
Being a top-six forward means driving offense for your team. It means that you have the skill and offensive prowess to compete with the best in the world. Henriksson has already been given that responsibility in his young career as he was tasked with centering the dynamic duo of Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond internationally for Sweden last season. To play with skill guys, you need to have the skill to keep up with them and Henriksson has that in spades. In the video below, Holtz and Raymond praise Henriksson’s ability to be the guy who makes their line gel.
Henriksson being the guy in between two offensive dynamos is very reminiscent of Sebastian Aho when he played between Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi just a few seasons ago for Finland. A lot of the focus was on the two wingers and Aho was not looked at as much. Fast forward a few seasons and questions surround Laine’s drive and ability and Puljujarvi is not even playing in the NHL. Meanwhile, Sebastian Aho has taken the NHL by storm – excuse the pun – and put up a career-high 83 points in 82 games last season. It’s beginning to look like Aho will become the best player of the three.
Now, I want to make something clear here, I’m not saying Henriksson will be Aho or turn into a player of that caliber but I am saying that it isn’t out of the question that he turns into a player like that.
Skill and talent always win out, and we saw at the Traverse City Tournament that he already had some good chemistry with his linemates which did include both Vitali Kravtsov and Kaapo Kakko at certain points. Without either of them on his wing, he still put up three assists in the final game of the prospect tournament, when the Rangers opted to rest their big three. Noted prospect expert Alex Nunn had this to say about the young Swede:
Henriksson has shown that he has the ability to play on the big stage. He has shown that even without super-elite linemates, he can still drive the play as we saw in the last game of the TCT. He is one of the most intriguing prospects in the New York Rangers system, and it will be interesting to see how a further year of development will improve his game.
The second line center battle will be fierce this year with guys like Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, and Brett Howden all trying to prove they deserve that spot; but look out, because when Henriksson comes over, he just might be the long term answer at that position.