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Johansson working on managing own expectations with Wild

19-year-old defenseman prospect has high personal standards on road to NHL

by Jessi Pierce / Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Filip Johansson continues to work toward becoming an NHL player with the Minnesota Wild, but the defenseman prospect said he knows he'll benefit from managing his own high expectations for himself.

"Sometimes they're more than I can perform (to), and that's a bad thing," the 19-year-old said during Wild development camp in June. "Of course, it's good to want more and want to be better and work on things, but you need to have a good level on it. You need to sometimes feel good about yourself too, and not just push yourself too much."

Johansson (6-foot-1, 176 pounds), who was selected by Minnesota in the first round (No. 24) of the 2018 NHL Draft, struggled with Leksands IF in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second tier of professional hockey in Sweden, last season, when he had one goal, three assists and a minus-10 rating in 47 games.

But Wild director of player development Brad Bombardir said he saw vast improvement in Johansson's game at development camp compared to his first a year earlier.

Video: Wild drafts defenseman Filip Johansson No. 24

"He puts a lot of pressure on himself," Bombardir said. "That's the kind of guy he is. He wants to do well. He wants to almost be perfect sometimes. … He wants to compete. He wants to compete hard. He wants to be quick. He wants to do the right things all the time. I think that's just the kind of person he is. 

"But of course, when you're a first-round pick and you're playing in the time he's playing in, the media and people out there, there's pressure from the outside. That's what you just have to get away from and not listen to it. Those two combinations, for sure, probably would put a little more pressure on him that he doesn't need to have. … For him, we just want him to relax and have fun because he's a good hockey player.

"I just want him to know he's a good hockey player, and that when he's out on the ice, he's a very capable player. He's one of the best puck-movers, first-pass puck-movers, that we've had in our organization that we've drafted, so that's his gift."

Johansson will return to Sweden and play again with Leksands IF, which was promoted to the top-tier Swedish Hockey League for the 2019-20 season. He's ready to take the next step and hopes to live up to those internal expectations. 

"I think I can improve my game a lot next year," he said. "I know what I need to do, and I think the more I put into the better I'll be. … Pressure will always be there but as long as I play my game, I can do well."

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