"I had groin issues last year," Larsson said after the team's optional morning skate at Centre Ice Arena. "I went pretty hard this summer. The last three weeks for almost two hours a day. It got a little bit sore. So because of what happened last year, I'm taking it easy so nothing happens again. But as you can see out there, I can go 100 percent so it's nothing big. We're just taking it easy."
Larsson worked extensively with goaltending coach Jeff Salajko Saturday morning and has been on the ice every day.
Of course, most players prefer games to practice but Larsson is keeping the big picture in mind.
"Yeah, it's unlucky," Larsson said. "I've been over here for a month now, training with all the guys. It's sucks to miss it. I came here to prepare for this tournament, so it sucks not being here. I'd rather be 100 percent when the season starts. I think I'll be practicing with the team in a few days. It feels good."
Larsson, the Wings' sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, has excelled at every level since being drafted, performing well for Djurgårdens IF J20 in the SuperElit (2.24 GAA, .925 SV% in 31 games) dominating the USHL for the Tri-City Storm (1.65 GAA, .941 SV% in 30 games) and then returning after surgery to lead the University of Denver Pioneers to the Frozen Four (1.95 GAA, .932 SV% in 22 games).
So it's no wonder Larsson elected to turn pro this past April.
"First of all, I was not a true freshman," Larsson explained. "I'm 21 now. I feel like guys my age go to OHL and they got right in here and do good. I feel like I played college last year and felt like I needed to an even higher challenge for me. I felt ready. This is what I wanted to do, turn pro as early as possible. When I got the opportunity, I felt that was the right thing for me."
Larsson spent the end of last season with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins and then has been training the last month in metro Detroit.
"I worked with (Jimmy) Howard for a month to see how he works," Larsson said. "I worked with the goalie coach, with him. He has prepared me for what I need to do for professional hockey. It's a few new stuff. Just a few details that I had to work on. Just watching him I can see what he'd do and maybe I can take some of his game and keep what I do good."
Howard, who went to the University of Maine, offered Larsson some pointers on things that may not translate to the next level.
"I saw Jimmy in the summer and we talked about a few stuff that I do in college that I can't do at the pro level," Larsson said. "It's been a few stuff that he told me that this is not going to work in the NHL, a few stuff like that. The narrowing of my pads is because of a few stuff I can move better and not get caught when I'm in a low stance. A few stuff to get used to at the pro level."
Larsson expects to be ready to practice fully in training camp and then it's off to the AHL.
"My goal is to get as many games as possible in Grand Rapids," Larsson said. "Stay there the entire season and learn. Just get used to pro level and see how it goes. I just want to play in the games, that's all and develop."
MCISAAC ON THE MEND: Red Wings defense prospect Jared McIsaac has moved into a new phase in his recovery from shoulder surgery.
McIsaac, the Wings' second-round pick, 36th overall, in the 2018 draft, underwent surgery on June 6 to repair his shoulder capsule.
While the timeline for that is generally 5-6 months, McIsaac is pleased with his progress.
"Obviously, it's frustrating, but it's part of the rehab process," McIsaac said. "I'm really happy with how I'm moving along, especially the past month. Obviously, getting extra help here definitely helps for sure. I think that's a big part of the reason they wanted me to come down."
McIsaac was one of nine players who took part in Saturday's optional morning skate.
"Talked to Dr. Anderson three days ago in Detroit," McIsaac said. "He was pretty happy with how things are going and cleared me to shoot. I'm real happy as well with how the process has done."
McIsaac was in Plymouth during the World Junior Summer Showcase at the end of July-beginning of August even though he couldn't play for Team Canada.
Since that time, he's able to do a lot more.
"My range of motion wasn't where it is now for sure," McIsaac said. "I'm real happy with how everything has been coming along. Out shooting now for the second day in a row. It definitely feels great to kind of get back into that but still have quite the process ahead of me."
Despite the injury, which occurred during last year's prospect tournament, McIsaac performed very well for the Halifax Mooseheads, with 16 goals and 46 assists in 53 games.
"I guess I learned I can battle through that type of stuff and still perform, lucky enough to perform at a pretty high level with this nagging injury, but we had a really good team, really good coach, made my life a lot easier," McIsaac said. "They managed my minutes pretty well all season with this the second half and in the playoffs. I didn't overload it a whole lot, kind of protected it as much as I could."
McIsaac played for Team Canada in last year's World Junior Championship and hopes to do so again.
"That's the goal for sure," McIsaac said. "Obviously, not putting a timeline on it but we'll see how it goes. That's definitely the goal, to make it out there."
BERGLUND'S OPPORTUNITY: For defenseman Gustav Berglund, taken in the sixth round, 177th overall, in the 2019 draft, it's a special opportunity to play in the prospect tournament, one that not many Europeans get.
But Frölunda HC J20 allowed him and forward Elmer Söderblom to come over for the week.
"Yeah, it's great," Berglund said. It's good experience, get a feel how it is to play on this side of the ocean. It's nice and a change of pace. They have to allow us to go and Frölunda did so I'm very thankful for that. Great experience and learning opportunity for me."
Berglund played in the Wings' 5-4 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night, paired with Alec McCrea.
"It felt good," Berglund said. "I was a little nervous but I gave it my all in the D-zone and tried to help the team so it felt good."
Although Berglund is not playing today against the St. Louis Blues, he does want to make an impression during the tournament.
"Just my compete level, that I can win my battles in the D-zone and I can give it my all and do what I can for the team," he said.
The main difference for Berglund and the other European players is the smaller ice surface.
"You notice it," Berglund said. "It goes a lot faster and it definitely makes the play more physical and smaller."
After the draft, Berglund participated in development camp in Detroit and said he learned quite a lot from his time there.
"Some new skills and a lot of recovery stuff, how to treat my body the best way and how to prepare myself for games," Berglund said. "That was the biggest part I took with me from the camp.
"We had nutrition talks almost every day and I picked up a lot of stuff from that. Definitely took that to my nutrition plans back in Sweden."
Berglund was asked his impression of Niklas Kronwall, who retired this past week after 15 NHL seasons.
"He's an icon in Sweden, one of the best Swedish defensemen to play," Berglund said. "Definitely looked up to him when I was younger.
"Physicality, professionality, he was just so calm on the ice and did everything right, it seemed."
After the tournament, Berglund and Söderblom will return to Frölunda, where Berglund plans to use some of the things he learned as he moves forward in his career.
"(I want) to develop my defensive game as much as I can, never lose battles in the D-zone and then to become a better offensive guy, score more goals, make more assists, be a playmaker all the time, try to get a spot on the senior team," Berglund said.