Top of the lottery prospects: Leo Carlsson’s postseason begins

The SHL has started its playoffs.

Top draft prospect Leo Carlsson, who has started to consistently rank at No. 4 in the 2023 rankings (behind Bedard, Fantilli, and Michkov), started his playoff run on March 16. He finished up the 44-game regular season with 25 points (10G, 15A) and has been playing well in the few opening matches.

Let’s get some details out of the way, first. The Swedish Hockey League, where Carlsson plays as a center, operates playoffs similar to the NHL, as teams face off repeatedly to win a best-of-seven games before advancing to the next round. The only difference is a brief play-in round for the teams that finished 7-10 in the standings to decide the final two spots of the 8-team playoff field.

Carlsson’s team, Örebro, finished fourth in the SHL and is currently facing Timrå, which finished fifth, in the quarterfinals. Örebro owns a 2-1 series lead after losing the last game in OT on Monday. Game 4 is on Friday.

Interestingly, Carlsson’s been playing at left wing on the third line for the playoffs. Normally he plays center, and will likely be drafted to fill that position, but he did grow up playing wing. He has assimilated relatively well to the change, but does tend to pass before shooting, which could be because he’s still getting used to the role.

In the first two games of the playoff series, Carlsson did not have any points. In Game 3, though, he opened up and scored two assists.

Here’s his first:

And here’s his second:

Here’s another clip from a playoff game. Carlsson is #91:

And here’s a quick highlight clip just to remember how he played in the regular season:

With Michkov’s season over, it will be interesting to see how far Carlsson’s team lasts in the postseason in comparison to the other top draft picks — as well as how Carlsson fits in with this “new” role at LW ahead of the draft. Örebro’s next game against Timrå is on Thursday night in Sweden (or 1 p.m. CT), so we won’t have to wait long to get some answers.