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Andreas Johnson... Better Late Than Never

by Paul Hendrick / Toronto Maple Leafs

The odds are always against a 7th round pick making it to the National Hockey League but the Toronto Maple Leafs like their chances in Andreas Johnson.

After all, the last two Leafs 7th rounders to make the club were also Swedes in Anton Stralman in 2005 followed by Carl Gunnarsson in 2007.

Johnson was selected 202nd overall in 2013.

Another Swede in Henrik Zetterberg might be the greatest example of 7th round success when Detroit selected him with the 210th pick in 1999.

Johnson and his older brother Jonathan have followed in their father Jonas’ footsteps.

The elder Johnson was a standout centre in the Swedish Hockey League for 15 years playing with athletes like Erik Karlsson and Henrik Lundqvist and the impact wasn’t lost on son Andreas.

“I was always going to rinks, watching his games and following him into dressing rooms. You can say I was kind of born into hockey. “

An all-round athlete Andreas excelled in Sweden’s main pastime soccer.

“I played soccer as a midfielder until I was 15. I had a big decision to make at that time but most of my friends played hockey and that was the direction I took. “

Andreas is listed at just 5-10 and 183 pounds but he’s thrived on challenges throughout his career.

He was diagnosed and treated for asthma last summer.

Certainly not phased, he proceeded to capture rookie of the year honours in the SHL at Frolunda scoring 15 goals.

That was preceeded by an outstanding performance in the World Junior Championships where he produced six points in seven games en route to a silver medal.

A second rookie camp under his belt with the Leafs, Andreas will spend at least one more year in Frolunda before setting his sights on North America.

The Maple Leafs are hoping that the Swedish legacy that found its beginnings with Borje Salming 41 years ago might once again extend itself with the fulltime arrival of Andreas in a few years time.

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