New Washington Capitals forward Johan Larsson had had some conversations about potentially being moved at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, but sports hernia surgery in early February left him unsure of where he’d be headed, or if he would even be on the move at all.
Ultimately, he ended up making his way to D.C. on Tuesday after the deadline, and he couldn’t be happier with his landing spot as he will get the opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup after 10 years with the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes, two teams who have been at the bottom of the standings for years.
“Very excited,” Larsson said. “Everyone wants to be in [the playoffs]. So it’s a little bit left here, but it’s going to be fun if we get [deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs].”
Larsson is still working his way back from surgery and making strides on and off the ice. He has been skating and is expected to need just around a week of practice before drawing into the lineup. Prior to his injury, the Swede skated 29 games for the Arizona Coyotes, dishing six goals and nine assists and showcasing a strong 200-foot game.
That style of play is exactly what he hopes to bring to the Capitals lineup. Washington currently sits in a comfortable playoff position in the East. And so far in his career, Larsson has played for just Buffalo and Arizona, two teams that haven’t been in prime Stanley Cup position.
“[I want] to just come in here, play my style, be a good, solid two-way player… enjoy my time here,” Larsson explained.
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The 5-11, 206-pound forward is a versatile player who can play all three positions. He’s physical and competes hard for the puck, and he’s not afraid to get into battles. His gritty playing style fits well with Washington’s powerhouse fourth line, which is still looking to find a full-time replacement for Carl Hagelin, who is out indefinitely following two surgeries for a “serious” eye injury suffered at the start of March.
“You come in here and you always want to do your best, I guess,” Larsson said. “[I want to] be solid, give everything that I have and see what happens. You can put me in the wing or you can put me in center, so I think that’s a good thing.”
He also wants to be involved in not only helping generate some pressure on the forecheck, something more ice time and responsibility with the Yotes helped him with, but he also wants to bring his strong defensive play to the table as well. He said his time with Arizona gave him more confidence, especially with more ice time and puck luck around the net as a result, but one area he thinks he can excel in is his ability to shut down his opponents and other top lines around the league.
“You got to know when they are out there first time, and you got to be responsible, know the situation you are in,” Larsson explained. “You are up against good players. They are going to make plays, but take them away as much as you can.”
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Larsson is looking forward to joining the Capitals roster. He knows countrymate, Nicklas Backstrom, from his time in Brynas, and Larsson also moved to Gavle, Backstrom’s hometown, at the age of 15 to advance his hockey career. Also, Larsson is familiar with Conor Sheary, as the two laced ’em up for the Sabres together.
In the end, he is excited to see where the opportunity goes, and most importantly, is ready to compete for a title.
“It’s always different coming to a new team. But so far, it’s been good,” Larsson said. “I feel like this group has been together for a while, so it is pretty easy to come in here. They are a confident group, they know they can do it. So it’s fun to come here.”