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Larsson's quiet confidence in net

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
Larsson, who posted a 2.29 GAA in the Swedish Elite League last season, will play in Grand Rapids in 2008-09.
DETROIT – The Red Wings always seem to find the best players Sweden has to offer.  Nick Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen are just a few Swedish stars to cross the pond and skate at Joe Louis Arena.

And Daniel Larsson, the Wings’ third round draft pick in 2006, could be the next Swede to join the Hockeytown party.

Larsson, a 6-foot, 170 pound goalie, exploded onto the Swedish professional hockey scene last season. He captured both the Swedish Elite League’s rookie of the year and top goaltender awards after taking over the starting job with Djurgarden.

Larsson posted a 2.29 goals against and a .921 save percentage with four shutouts in 2007-08.

Detroit Vice President and assistant general manager Jim Nill said that Larsson will have his first taste of North American hockey this season.

“He’s going down in Grand Rapids,” Nill said. “He’s coming over now to adapt to North America. The rink’s a different size; in Europe the bigger ice and the angles are different, so he’s going to have to get used to the angles, the changes in the way shooters shoot over here, there’s a lot more shots over here.”

Nill compared Larsson to former Red Wings goalie Manny Legace, saying that though he’s not that big, he’s very quick and very athletic. When describing Larsson’s playing style, the 22-year-old said many of the same things.

“I look quite small in the net,” Larsson said. “A lot of movement by my feet, almost every time I’m in the right spot. I’m quite quick.”

When asked about what he needed to improve on, Larsson responded very simply.

“I think everything,” he said. “The conditioning level of my body, the speed when I’m out on the ice … almost everything.”

Larsson went on to say that next season will be a big adjustment for him, because of the differences between European and North American styles.

“It’s a lot different, different game,” Larsson said. “A lot more shots, and they don’t play the puck as much in Sweden, and it’s quite difficult now in the beginning to get used to it.  It will get better.”

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