Forsbacka Karlsson soaks up NHL practice, still waiting for work visa


BRIGHTON, Mass -- It was another day of practice and another day without a proper work visa for Swedish center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson after the 20-year-old signed his entry level deal with the Boston Bruins last weekend.

“It’s a lot of parts that go into it, but I thought this was the right move for me and the right time to get into the Bruins organization,” said Forsbacka Karlsson, who centered a line with injured players Tim Schaller and Frank Vatrano along with healthy scratch Jimmy Hayes during his only full practice on Tuesday morning. “Right now it’s a little bit of a process with the immigration status, so we have to go through that. Then it’s up to the coaches to take it from there.”

Both the Bruins and Forsbacka Karlsson himself weren’t entirely sure how long the paperwork would take to get approved, so there’s absolutely a big, fat question mark with the timetable for the BU standout to get into an NHL game. There’s some logical line of thinking that Karlsson could even be an option as a third line center if Ryan Spooner couldn’t pull himself out of the late season funk he’s been in, or even step in as a winger if injuries continue to erode their depth on both sides.

“I don’t know a lot about the player. He skates well and looks smooth distributing the puck, skating [with] hands,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of Forsbacka Karlsson, who finished with 14 goals and 33 points in 39 games as a sophomore with the Terriers this season. “I guess that would be it for now without seeing him battle or in live action. From what I hear he’s got a good stick, a heady player and a good two-way player. His skills look good and he’s got good size.”

In the meantime the skilled two-way center, who often is compared to Patrice Bergeron for his solid all-around play in the middle, is going to soak up being able to watch No. 37 up close and personal while taking note of everything he does.

“It’s a real smooth way to get in at the end of the year, see the guys and get to know the coaching staff a little bit,” said JFK, his catchy nickname that will certainly catch on with the Bruins. “First of all it’s flattering whenever you hear [comparisons to Bergeron]. So just being around the guy and to see what he does is an amazing opportunity for me.

“I’ve watched a lot of those guys [while] playing a two-way game. Obviously Bergeron is one of the best in the league at doing that, and [Jonathan] Toews and [Anze] Kopitar too. Those are [who] you watch to learn things, but it’s awfully tough to try and compare yourself to guys like that.”

The real question now becomes whether Forsbacka Karlsson, Charlie McAvoy or Anders Bjork, once his Frozen Four tournament is over with Notre Dame, will get into games with the Bruins and be able to infuse their obviously high talent level into the NHL mix for the Black and Gold once they get into the postseason. That won’t even be a possibility for the Swedish former second-round pick until he gets the okay from Uncle Sam to start drawing paychecks on Causeway Street. 

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