STONE HARBOR, N.J. – Fredric Larsson was trying to get comfortable.
A day after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, Larsson was hobbling around the beach community, mostly watching his fellow Flyers prospects take part in a wide array of activities as part of the Trial on the Isle.
He longed to be taking part with them, but he knew he had to recover from the old injury – one suffered last season that he played through – and that recovery was most important.
So as he sat at the end of the table set up in the Stone Harbor Elementary School gymnasium, trying to prop his leg up on a folding chair as he positioned himself to sign autographs for the next 90 minutes, Larsson thought about his future.
“I want to come here [to North America] and stay here,” he said. “I want to play this style of game. I think I can do it, but I’ have to learn it first. It’s different than in Sweden. I have to get used to it.”
Or get comfortable…
|While Larsson recovers from knee surgery and awaits confirmation of a team to play for in North America, maybe he can do ads for a certain sunglasses company. (Courtesy Amanda Brown) |
Larsson, 19, was a fourth round pick of the Flyers (No. 111 overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He played last season in the Swedish Junior League for Brynas and had some modest success (4G, 6A, 10PTS in 41 games with 134PIMS), but in order to fast track his path to North American pro hockey – and hopefully the NHL, Larsson feels that playing here on a junior level is the right step to take.
“I like playing at home, but I think my game is best suited for here,” he said.
And he’s probably right.
Over the past two years, the Flyers have made it a point to draft defensemen with a little bit of size and tenacity in their style.
Of the eight defensemen drafted in the past two years, only one – Shayne Gostisbehere – is a smaller, puck-moving type guy. The other seven play the game with a high compete level and a whole lot of nasty.
And the first of those seven drafted was Larsson.
Standing at 6-3, Larsson has the size and the reach that NHL scouts fawn over. But it’s his style of play – not traditionally indicative of young European skaters - that really caught the eye of European scouts, including the Flyers’ Ilkka Sinisalo.
“Ilkka felt that he fits the smaller ice style better,” said Chris Pryor, the Flyers director of Hockey Operations. “He’s aggressive and tall. He needs to add some weight, but he plays that in-your-face style of the game. That’s what caught our eye to begin with. We’re enthused that he wants to learn that type of game over here now.”
And Larsson made it known through his representatives that he wanted to play junior hockey in North America during the 2013-14 season.
However, he went undrafted in the CHL drafts that encompass the three major Canadian junior leagues – the WHL, the OHL and the QMJHL.
Larsson isn’t sure why, but thought that maybe injuries to his knee and a concussion that he suffered last year may have given some of those teams pause.
But, he didn’t give up hope, and now, although it isn’t official yet, it’s looking good for the Flyers prospect to land in the USHL.
“Youngstown asked about him and it sounds like that’s where he’s going to end up,” Pryor said. “If that were to happen we think it would be a good situation for him. He wants to learn the North American game. He sees himself, as do we, as a guy who can play this game. He thinks it would be good to come over now to learn the differences and the nuances of the game from what he’s used to in Europe.
“We’re happy about it too because we can monitor him better now. It’ll be good so [Flyers Director of Player Development] Ian [Laperriere] can get to watch and monitor him much more often than before.”
And that’s all Larsson was hoping for.
“I think I could show them better the kind of player I am if they could see me play more,” said Larsson, who by Thursday was already off the crutches and walking without much of a limp. “I’m excited for this to happen because I want to have the Flyers see me all the time.”
It was the one thing that bugged Larsson about his injury – he wasn’t able to skate at the Development Camp and show his improved skills to the Flyers staff. But, he’s sticking around for a few extra days to rehabilitate his knee before heading back to Sweden for a little while.
But then he’s going to come back just to get back in a pair of skates.
“I want to be on the ice,” he said. “Meeting the other players is fun and doing this stuff this week is good, but I want to skate and play, and I want the team to see me more. That’s why I want to come here to play.”
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