Although the New York Rangers signed Karl Henriksson to his initial contract last spring, he will again play at home in Sweden this season. Among the cuts in the training camp came Monday News that Rangers had loaned the skilled center to SHL’s Frolunda HC, the organization he has spent the past five seasons with. Henriksson, Rangers’ choice in the second round in 2019, will have to wait another year to make his North American debut.
Henriksson, 20, may be Rangers’ best prospects not already in the NHL. A two-way center with strong skates and puck possession skills, Henriksson looks like someone who should be in the league at some point. He has already made his mark at the top level in Sweden with 54 matches played as a teenager, and looks ready to take on an even bigger role this season after scoring two points in four matches with Frolunda in the Champions League game this summer.
While the young pivot is probably still developing, it is interesting to see Rangers send him back to Sweden – and so quickly. New York has acknowledged that it has a weakness in the middle and must find another top-six center. Still, they do not provide much of their best internal alternative to eventually fill that role. Letting Henriksson adapt to the North American game in the AHL this season rather than returning to the SHL may have been worth a little more consideration. Although the Rangers still felt he was best served when he got home, they could at least have given him a taste of NHL play this preseason. Maybe the club is not yet sold on Henriksson’s upside, something that the young center will try to change this season by establishing itself as a skilled professional in Sweden.