Daniel Larsson minds the net with HV-71 during the 2010-11 Swedish Elite League season. (Credit: HV-71)
When Daniel Larsson left the American Hockey League last summer, he still had a lot to learn. After a year in Sweden, that hasn’t changed.
“I certainly want to see him make another step up from where he is now in order to want to do something again (with regard to a contract),” said Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson. “I want him to be very good at the national team level. He’s been pretty good there. I want him to be very good.”
The 25-year-old goaltender spent two seasons in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins, posting solid numbers in seasons with 53 and 45 starts. But calling two years “enough” last summer, he signed a two-year contract with HV-71 of the Swedish Elite League, and led them to a first-place finish in the regular season with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 45 starts.
In a bizarre turn of events, a healthy Larsson ended up benched for the start of the playoffs, with little-used backup Andreas Andersson taking his place. Larsson didn’t get a start until Game 3, but HV-71 was swept. Hakan Andersson said the team was in “disharmony” and Larsson did nothing to deserve being benched.
“Larsson had done nothing wrong — he played well all year,” Andersson said. “They figured they had to play the backup goalie before the playoffs, and he played fine. All of a sudden the coach says, ‘We’re going to try it with him now.’ There was nothing wrong with Larsson’s game and this made the team more upset.”
Larsson, who the Red Wings drafted in the third round (92nd overall) in 2006, is a former Honken Trophy winner as Sweden’s top goaltender and was a PlanetUSA all-star selection in 2008-09. The Red Wings can hang onto his rights as a restricted free agent until 2013, at which time Larsson will be 27 years old.
“Seeing all the 28-, 29- and 30-year-old goalies that go to the NHL, you’ve got to consider he’s some kind of prospect still,” Andersson said.
EMMERTON IN RITOLA’S SKATES: Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told MLive.com that Griffins forward Cory Emmerton will report to 2011-12 training camp in a similar position to Mattias Ritola last season.
Emmerton, who recently signed a three-year contract extension that is one-way for the final two seasons, is no longer waiver exempt and must make the Red Wings or be exposed to 29 other teams to go to the minors. Ritola was in the same position last season and ended up being claimed by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“He’s got to play his way onto the team,” Holland told the paper.
Holland added some scouting notes: “He’s smart, he’s got good hands, good hockey sense, he’s good at carrying the puck into the offensive zone. Don’t know if he’s going to be a big-time point producer in the NHL.”
HIGH PRAISE FOR MRAZEK: Legendary Ottawa 67′s general manager Brian Kilrea absolutely heaped praise on Petr Mrazek in an Ottawa Citizen article this week, calling him “as good as” any goaltender in franchise history.
“He amazes me sometimes with his quickness,” Kilrea said. “He makes the impossible seem so easy. He never gives up on a play. He will forever make that big save. I can remember maybe a bad goal or two. But I can’t remember a bad game.”
Mrazek, who signed an amateur tryout with the Griffins after the 67′s were eliminated from the Ontario Hockey League playoffs last week, started 52 games this season and had a 2.84 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. He is expected to play another year of junior before turning pro.
“We don’t win some of the games we won this year without the best goalie in the league,” Kilrea said in the Ottawa Citizen article. “You can crunch all the numbers of any player in the league and no one has been more valuable to his team than Petr. Detroit (Red Wings) made an unbelievable pick.”
NOTES: Forward Andrej Nestrasil (P.E.I., Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) saw his season end last week when the P.E.I. Rocket were eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs. He had a team-high six points in five games and will re-enter the draft if not signed by June 1 … Mitchell Callahan (Kelowna, Western Hockey League) and Trevor Parkes and Louis-Marc Aubry (both of Montreal, QMJHL) are the only Red Wings prospects still in the Memorial Cup hunt … Defenseman Brendan Smith (Grand Rapids, AHL) was named to the AHL’s all-rookie team. He has 32 points and a plus-8 in 59 games … Forward Dick Axelsson (Farjestad, Swedish Elite League) and his team are up 1-0 in the championship series against Skelleftea … Forward Gustav Nyquist has three points in his first four pro games after signing an amateur tryout contract with Grand Rapids … Thomas McCollum, already with shaken confidence, never should have been put into this situation. Nonetheless, after being called up to Detroit, he came on in relief of Joey MacDonald in a 10-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues and allowed three goals on eight shots in 14:37 of action.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Stolyarov, Gennady||Dynamo Msk||KHL||20||2||4||6||23||-8||32|
|Samuelsson, Jesper||Vita Hasten||SWE-3||31||10||23||33||41||+25||99|
|Smith, Brendan||Grand Rapids||AHL||59||12||20||32||117||+8||107|
|Mursak, Jan||Grand Rapids||AHL||53||13||22||37||22||+17||127|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||66||23||32||55||43||+15||150|
|Pare, Francis||Grand Rapids||AHL||76||23||30||53||49||-14||220|
|Ehrhardt, Travis||Grand Rapids||AHL||48||4||11||15||36||+1||55|
|Pyett, Logan||Grand Rapids||AHL||70||9||12||21||38||-4||131|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||AHL||75||7||14||21||26||0||103|
|Emmerton, Cory||Grand Rapids||AHL||61||11||26||37||22||+3||118|
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||AHL||25||0||5||5||8||-7||42|
|Kolosov, Sergei||Grand Rapids||AHL||55||0||1||1||46||-19||50|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||AHL||33||0||3||3||21||-5||24|
|Owens, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||60||6||14||20||101||-12||95|
|Filppula, Ilari||Grand Rapids||AHL||72||20||42||62||22||+2||125|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||AHL||65||8||5||13||17||0||72|
|Piche, Sebastien||Grand Rapids||AHL||11||0||2||2||13||-4||15|
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||1||2||3||0||+1||6|
|Nicastro, Max||Boston U.||NCAA||38||5||4||9||59||-9||44|
|Oslund, Nick||St. Cloud St.||NCAA||30||3||1||4||10||-2||50|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud St.||NCAA||38||5||18||23||18||-5||58|
|Sheahan, Riley||Notre Dame||NCAA||39||5||17||22||22||-6||100|
SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT
GOALIES: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||21||6||12||2||1||3.28||.879|
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||40||19||12||5||1||2.88||.908|
GOALIES: PLAYOFF REPORT