18 April 2019


A Key to the Crown – Johan Larsson


Larsson on net

Though there are more gifted players on Sweden’s entry into the 2011 World Junior Championships such as Nashville Predators’ prospect Patrick Cehlin, upcoming 2011 NHL Entry Draft sensation Adam Larsson, or team captain and Edmonton Oilers’ future cog Anton Lander, arguably the most consistent and vital player on the squad has proven to be centre Johan Larsson (pictured left).

This is a player that spun international intrigue in the time span between captaining Sweden’s silver medal winning entry into last year’s U18 World Championships and the recent 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Larsson exploded for 14 points in the five games at the U18’s and saw his draft stock rise sharply.

Larsson draft

The Minnesota Wild subsequently chose to add Larsson’s leadership and guile to their organizational depth by adding him 56th overall in the 2nd round. Team Sweden’s success rides on his ability to get the puck and create chances.

A product of the Sudrets HC and more recently for various tiers of the Brynäs club out of Gävle (150 kms NNW out of Stockholm), the dynamic forward is a player that scouts see as having greater skill than his point production suggests and contributes nightly in every aspect on the ice surface. Larsson is known as the definitive ‘team-player’.

Ross MacLean (the head of European Scouting at ISS) had this to say about Larsson in April 2010: “He is a dynamic and intelligent player who works extremely hard and is beyond competitive. His skill set isn't over the top or flashy by any means, but he does come with a bag of tricks he can rely on to create space when needed.”


Larsson won the playoff MVP honours last spring as the Junior-18 Brynäs squad triumphed as champions of the J-18 Allsvenskan. His regular club team, the Junior-20 Brynäs was also victorious in their quest for a championship, where he tallied 34 points (15 goals) in 40 matches. Larsson has also claimed the league’s faceoff award the past two seasons.

While offensive upside is a nice thing to project with a prospect, the Wild have undoubtedly been salivating at his competitiveness and faceoff proficiency. While not relied upon with the mostly veteran lineup in Brynäs (two points in 24 games/only nine face-offs taken), Larsson has been spectacular against his peers.

During the current 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York, Larsson willingly takes a backseat to some of the more highlighted names on the team, though his work ethic does not. The 6’0” – 203 pound pivot’s faceoff mark of 84.6% (33 wins of 39 total) after three games is second only to Canada’s Zack Kassian (87.5%, 7 wins of 8 draws) and is first among regular centres.

Add to that the fact that the Lau, Sweden-born forward has chipped in with three points (one goal), six shots on net, and is +3 at the tournament thus far, demonstrating his overt value.

The Wild have certainly been plagued by less-than-fruitful drafts. Add to that dearth of youth at each position a tendency for free agents to under-perform and the decline in results is to be expected. Minnesota’s current top three faceoff men (Koivu, Cullen and Madden) average 33 years young so new growth is a vital aspect to success in the future.

Larsson fills an obvious need for the club going forward. This is one selection fanatics in Minnesota should be elated with rather than question.


31 December 2010 / Robin Keith Thompson












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