Johan Larsson on the bench during his only previous NHL game, playing for Minnesota against Detroit on Feb. 17. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
Much of training camp and the buildup to the season opener in Detroit was spent on the debuts of first-round draft picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Zemgus Girgensons. Tonight's home opener against the Ottawa Senators will mark the Buffalo debut of 21-year-old center Johan Larsson, another player the Sabres have high hopes for as a future building block.
With Ville Leino injured and Tyler Ennis shifted to wing, Larsson will take the ice as Buffalo's No. 2 center tonight between Ennis and Steve Ott.
"I'm really excited to go out and play," Larsson said today. "Camp was pretty good for me and that helped me build the
confidence to do some work.
they are two good players but they just told me to go out there and play my
style and that's what I want to do.
Larsson, of course, was acquired from Minnesota last year as part of the Jason Pominville trade that also brought Matt Hackett and, as it turned out, Nikita Zadorov. His career will be closely watched as a main guy acquired in the deal for a captain.
"They really wanted me I think," Larsson said. "They told me to go out and
play my style. That's the only thing I have to do. It's a great group of guys
here to help me out. [Henrik] Tallinder helps me out. He's from Sweden too. You just go out, have fun."
ROCHESTER -- The Sabres' season is done, and their minor-league club can't afford another loss. Rochester is in a 2-0 hole to the Toronto Marlies, and Game Three of the best-of-five series is Wednesday night in Rochester.
Though the team is in trouble, the prospects are getting rave reviews from Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy. Here are his thoughts from today on forward Zemgus Girgensons, selected in the first round last year, and center Johan Larsson and goalie Matt Hackett, who were acquired in the trade that sent Jason Pominville to Minnesota.
New Sabres acquisition Johan Larsson is known as a defensive forward, a powerful center/winger who goes by the nickname of "The Bull" in his native Sweden. He's begun to add finesse, too.
Larsson, a 20-year-old who is coming to Buffalo as part of the deal that sent Jason Pominville to Minnesota, had 12 goals in 49 games during his last season in the Swedish league. In the American Hockey League this year, Larsson recorded 15 goals and 37 points in 62 games.
"Johan is a player that has continued to get better since he was a young
player first being evaluated for the draft," his agent, Craig Oster, said about the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder. "He’s not a tall player but
extremely stocky, very, very strong. I think his nickname in Sweden is
"He’s demonstrated at different times a little bit more of a
scoring touch than people had originally anticipated.
"He can play center, wing, penalty killer. If I had to categorize him, responsibly defensive forward who can also chip in offensively and has some offensive creativity."
Quick video looks at new Sabres forward Johan Larsson, speaking to the Houston Aeros' web site in January and speaking after last year's gold-medal clinching game of the World Junior Championships. He was the captain for Team Sweden as it won the title last year in Calgary.
John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.