Steve Yzerman is taking a patient approach with the majority of his NHL entry draft selections since taking over as GM of the Detroit Red Wings in 2019. That being the case, the fact that defenseman Anton Johansson has signed on for two more seasons with Leksands of the SHL isn’t likely to give him any sleepless nights.
Johansson, Detroit’s 105th overall selection in the 2022 draft, is expecting to begin his first full season in SHL play in 2023-24. Johansson, 19, was up for 21 games with the big club last season, scoring his first SHL goal. He suited up for four games in 2021-22.
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“I’m going to play with the senior team in Leksands in the SHL,” Johansson said. “So yeah, it’s gonna be fun, see how that goes.”
In preseason SHL action, Johansson has been skating in the second defensive pairing for Leksands.
“I feel (comfortable),” Johansson said. “I just want to get more minutes. I’m just trying to play more so you get more comfortable with seniors of course.”
Two Years In Europe A Red Wings Standard
By staying with Leksands until his contract is up, it’s likely that Johansson will have enjoyed the experience of two full years of playing against men in the SHL. Looking at the resumes of several players now playing in North America with the Red Wings, or in the team’s system, two years of full SHL exposure is proving to be standard operating procedure.
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Lucas Raymond, Marco Kasper, Elmer Soderblom, Simon Edvinsson and William Wallinder all saw two full years of SHL duty prior to moving across the Atlantic Ocean. Albert Johansson and Jonatan Berggen were both allowed three years of experience in Sweden’s top league. In Berggren’s case, he lost much of one campaign to a back injury.
Anton Johansson has been part of the Leksands hockey program since 2019. Leksands GM Thomas Johansson, who also happens to be Anton’s dad, is expecting a big step forward from his son in 2023-24.
“He is big but still very athletic out on the ice,” Thomas Johansson said of Anton on the Leksands website. “He possesses many good qualities and in Anton’s case it is very much about continuing to build experience and physique.
“He’s extremely skilled, moves well, is fearless and can break a pattern to create offensive chances.”