|Johan Larsson (photo from Wild.com)|
Larsson, the 56th pick in 2010 by Minnesota, continued an acclaimed season by scoring in Sweden's 3-2 World Championships exhibition loss to the United States Tuesday morning. The goal came towards the end of the second period when he received a cross-ice pass from Brynas IF teammate Jakob Silfverberg on the power play and put it past United States goalie Richard Bachman. It put Sweden down by one entering the final twenty minutes and a chance to complete a three-goal comeback but despite their best efforts, the Americans stood tall.
More on Larsson and fellow Swede Jonas Brodin's play after the jump...
Despite the goal, however, Larsson's play was erratic at times. He was quiet along with the rest of the Swedish offense in the first period (which really struggled getting out of the neutral zone against the US) and was held in check outside up until the goal. The 19 year-old picked things up in the third period with a couple opportunities and found his niche in front of the net using a combo of size and speed. It was an improvement from being out-muscled by men along the boards.
At the very least, if Larsson makes Sweden's roster for the World Championships (and it looks like he will) it will be in a different role than captaining the Swedish Under-20 team to a gold medal. With a top-six comprised of NHLers like Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson and Loui Erikson, he would be the 12th or 13th forward. Regardless, it would cap off a remarkable year that's seen Larsson named the SEL Rookie of the Year and win the Elitserien Championship with Brynas in addition to the WJC gold medal.
But he's not alone when it comes to Wild prospects on Team Sweden.
Along with Johan Larsson, 2011 first round pick (10th overall) Jonas Brodin looks to be playing with the big boys when the World Championships begin Friday (they run May 4-20). It's a magnificent achievement because Team Sweden has five NHL defensemen in their lineup (guys like Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman) and it's tougher to be a teenage blue liner in international competition than a teenage forward.
And the Minnesota prospect looked right in place Tuesday. If anything, he was one of the better defensemen against the US - Brodin had good vision of the ice, used the Olympic sheet well with skating above his years, always had a sense of where his D partner is and his mistakes Tuesday were few and far between. He had a turnover behind the Swedish net which created a good chance for the US but they didn't convert. Other than that, if anything, 18 year-old Brodin looked tentative and despite having a couple shot attempts from the point, rarely pinched when others would (and did).
I'd say he fit in with the Wild blue line this season but honestly I'm not sure who that's an insult to - Brodin or Minnesota's defense.
Tuesday's game wasn't a quick glance either as this article discussing the only four players who played well in Sweden's 4-2 loss to Russia (note: the quote comes per Google Translate which always...ALWAYS makes perfect sense translating from Swedish to English - if you have a better translation, please leave it in the comments).
Jonas Brodin - 18 years and the best Swedish. Just such a thing. Färjestads back is on track to become World Cup players.Brodin wore #28 while Larsson was #10 with Sweden.
The two join Matt Hackett (Canada), Mikko Koivu (Finland), Mikael Granlund (Finland) and Dennis Endras (Germany) as Minnesota Wild players and prospects playing in the World Championships.