DETROIT -- Sometimes in hockey, being familiar with the people around you and being comfortable with your surroundings is the best way to develop your game and advance through the ranks, and that's exactly the case for Detroit Red Wings prospect Albert Johansson.
Johansson, who grew up in Karlstad, Sweden, has played his entire career for his hometown organization, Farjestad BK, working his way up from the lowest level of U-16, through the ranks of Junior-18 and Junior-20 and now to the highest level of the Swedish Hockey League.
The 20-year-old defenseman, who the Red Wings selected in the second round, 60th overall, in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, is coming off his second SHL campaign in 2020-21, in which he earned 19 points (8-11-19) in 44 games, finishing second among team defensemen in goals and assists.
He was heavily relied upon during his team's six-game postseason run, where he averaged 23:09 of ice time, and added two assists before his club was eliminated.
Just over a year ago, on June 5, 2020, Johansson signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings as a 19-year-old, and he's been working to improve his 200-foot game to become the type of defenseman that executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman is looking for.
Johansson has hockey in his blood, as his father, Roger, was also an SHL veteran with 401 career games under his belt, as well as a short stint in the NHL, playing 150 games for the Calgary Flames from 1989-1993 and 11 games for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1994-95 season.
The younger Johansson said he soaks up every bit of hockey knowledge he can from his NHL veteran father.
"I think that helps me a lot because we talk a lot of hockey," Johansson said during his first development camp with the Red Wings in 2019. "He knows a lot of hockey so he gives me a lot of tips, so I think that's good for me."
The 6-foot, 168-pound blueliner said he was still growing after he was drafted in June 2019 and is also working to gain weight and increase his strength to be able to compete at the NHL level.
Red Wings director of player development Shawn Horcoff said Johansson exceeded expectations when he made his SHL debut last year and said he's eager to see what the young prospect can accomplish as he gains weight and experience.
"He's an elite skater, has good offensive ability, a good brain for the game. He's another one that just needs to put on strength," Horcoff said in 2020. "He's not able to do out there what he wants to do, but I don't think anyone really foresaw him playing in the men's league. He made the team out of camp; he was so good they couldn't send him down."
After the 2020-21 season, Johansson was one of the final players selected to Team Sweden for the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Latvia.
And while Johansson didn't see any action in this year's World Championship, he did play for Team Sweden in the 2021 World Junior Championship and also won a gold medal for his country in the 2019 World Under-18 Championship, holding his own against some of the best young players in the world.
Earlier this month, the Red Wings announced they loaned Johansson back to Farjestad to begin the 2021-22 campaign.
If and when Johansson is able to follow in his father's footsteps and break into the NHL remains in question, but one thing is certain--the Red Wings are excited to see his potential come to fruition.
"He's very skinny, but his dad is 6-foot-3 and his two older brothers are 6-foot-3, so there's hope that he's got some growing left to do," said Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson after Johansson was drafted. "I like him very much. Another scout said he might be the best of them all when it's all said and done. I like him because he's a mobile skater and a very smart, good player. He's got ability with the puck."