GRAND RAPIDS -- Albert Johansson can’t help but think about the future, as the 23-year-old defenseman prospect is aiming to push for a spot on the Detroit Red Wings’ 2024-25 Opening Night roster this fall.

But Johansson knows right now, it’s important to stay in the present with the Grand Rapids Griffins during their 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs run.  

“We’re in the playoffs here, so that’s where my focus is right now,” Johansson told DetroitRedWings.com on May 18. “But of course, when we’re done with this season, I want to go home, work hard and get stronger. I will try to return in as good of shape as possible to fight for a spot (with the Red Wings) next season.”

Johansson, who was selected by the Red Wings with the 60th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, finished his 2023-24 regular season with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) and a plus-7 rating in 66 AHL games. The young Swedish blueliner said he’s taken strides on and off the ice since making his North American debut with the Griffins in their 2022-23 season opener.

“Coming into this year, I knew the league and the team,” Johansson said. “We had a new coaching staff, but I think I’ve taken steps from last year. I know how to live over here now too, really just learning everything outside of the rink. That makes it easier to just focus on the hockey and try to be better every day.”

First-year head coach Dan Watson said Johansson has been a dependable player for Grand Rapids this season.

“Extremely consistent,” Watson said about the former second-round pick. “You have to watch him a lot to appreciate him. As a coach, he’s a guy that you trust to put out there in any type of situation.”

Johansson has two assists in six postseason games with the Griffins, who are currently in a 1-1 series tie with the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL Central Division Final. Grand Rapids is set to host Milwaukee for Game 3 in the best-of-five series at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday night.

Johansson said he’s embracing the challenge of the playoff grind.

“It’s the same mindset, but every game gets more intense and physical because you’re playing the other team so much,” Johansson said about navigating his first Calder Cup Playoffs experience.

As a young player trying to reach the NHL, Johansson said learning from veterans in Grand Rapids’ dressing room has been one of his biggest priorities in his second AHL campaign.

“They are very important for us young guys in this league,” Johansson said about his veteran teammates. “It’s not easy, so they’ve made a big impact on us. Things like how to prepare for practice and games, how to be a good pro. I’m glad all those guys are helping us.”