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Prospects Unlimited: Rangers prospect Henriksson happy being savvy center out of spotlight

He's the son of soccer-playing parents, but Karl Henriksson makes his mark on the ice.

At some point, it just becomes obvious how valuable Karl Henriksson is, even if the Swedish center isn’t a household name yet. When he plays internationally, he often has top 2020 draft prospects Alex Holtz and Lucas Raymond as his wingers. When Henriksson suited up for the Rangers at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament this fall, he played between two of the organization’s elite young talents: Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov. “He’s a 200-foot player, real cerebral with and without the puck,” said Rangers GM Jeff Gorton. “He does all the dirty work. For a guy who’s not big (5-foot-9, 175 pounds), he plays a bigger game. He hunts pucks, he wins battles, he makes plays. He does all the little things to help you win.”

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Henriksson, a second-round pick in the 2019 draft, is back in Sweden racking up points for Frolunda’s junior squad. Born in Malmo, he moved up the coast to the village of Morrum when he was four. “You bike to everything, you hang out with your buddies outside,” he said. “You don’t have anything to do except play sports.”

Henriksson comes from a soccer family, with both his parents playing at a high level, and he played until 15. On the ice, Henriksson has already made a big impact. His line with Raymond and Holtz was integral to Sweden’s gold medal at the world under-18s last year, the first time the Tre Kronor had ever won the tournament. They did it at home, too, in Ornskoldsvik. “It was really important to do it on home ice,” Henriksson said. “The world juniors are really big in Sweden, but I think the under-18s could be big, too.”

Speaking of the world juniors, Sweden could reunite that big line this year. The country has only won two golds at the WJC, but the high end that comes with Holtz and Raymond could help make it three. And Henriksson doesn’t mind being the two-way conscience on the line: “That’s my game. When I play with Lucas and Alex, they’re so good in the offensive zone that if I can (help) by doing hard work all over the ice, that’s good for us.” – Ryan Kennedy

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