As he backstopped the Denver Pioneers to last week’s NCAA Frozen Four, Filip Larsson also viewed the experience as an investment in his future.
“For sure it helps to get me ready,” Larsson said. “I’m getting closer to being in Detroit’s organization.”
He’s no longer close. He’s there. The future became now for Larsson on Monday, when he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings, who selected the Swedish netminder 167th overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft.
“We consider him one of our best goalie prospects in the organization,” Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin told Mlive.com. “He took a less than traditional route.
“We drafted him from Sweden but he’s a guy that after we drafted him played one year over there and then came over to play in the USHL, which normally isn’t the route some of these guys take. and therefore showed up on the radar of U.S. colleges.”
Larsson was nominated for NCHC goaltender of the year. He posted back-to-back shutouts in the NCAA Tournament.
“He’s got a real strong technical base,” Martin said. “I think the strength of his game are his feet, his edges. He’s a really good skater with strong technical skill. He’s grown a couple of inches in the last year, so I consider him above average size. He’s not huge. He’s almost 6-2, so he’s decent size. He has a real calm demeanor.”
Larsson will report to AHL Grand Rapids on an amateur tryout agreement for the rest of the season and would be eligible to play. His contract with the Wings won’t kick in until the beginning of the 2019-20 NHL season.
The Worlds Await
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill will take charge of Team USA for the third straight IIHF world championship tournament.
Blashill indicated that he won’t try to talk anyone into playing for his squad at the tournament from May 10-26 in Kosice and Bratislava, Slovakia.
“I think it’s important in that tournament that guys want to go,” Blashill said. “And my history of recruiting is if people’s minds are made up and you change them and you kind of coerce them into going, it doesn’t end up a good experience.
“I think it’s more just basically — will I make some phone calls? Probably. Will I let them know I want them? Yes. But I don’t want anybody that doesn’t want to be there or want to win a gold medal and I don’t want guys that don’t want to be there.”
Blashill guided the Americans to a bronze medal last year and a fifth-place finish in 2017. His record over the two tournaments was 14-4.
“He’s an excellent leader and is well-versed on what it takes to be successful on the international stage,” US GM Chris Drury said.
Blashill will be joined on the bench by Red Wings assistant coach Dan Bylsma. Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, defenseman Danny DeKeyser and forwards Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendening have been invited to play for Team USA.
Team Canada has reached out to Wings forwards Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou.
Team rosters are expected to be announced later this week.
Follow me on Twitter @asktheduffer