The Red Wings’ media corps spoke with turning-pro goaltender Filip Larsson today, and both MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James filed articles regarding Larsson’s career path.
The former Djurgardens IF and Tri-City Storm goaltender hopes to earn a starting job with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins after a season spent at the University of Denver, but Larsson readily admitted that he’s not counting himself the Griffins’ starter just yet. Khan duly noted that Larsson is taking things a moment at a time…
Could Larsson reach Detroit in 2020-21? Starter Jimmy Howard, 35, signed a one-year contract in March and his performance will dictate whether he is extended for another season. Backup Jonathan Bernier, 30, has two years remaining on his deal.
Larsson realizes a large portion of the fan base hopes he is on the fast track to the NHL.
“Yeah, I get some stuff on social media, but I’m not that updated there,” Larsson said. “Sometimes I get a message or something. I know about it. It’s fun to see. For me, I want to play games at the next level.”
By next level, he was referring to the AHL, and he isn’t even taking for granted that he has a job with the Griffins, saying he’s going to “try to get that spot.”
He will, and the only question is how many games he will play. The Red Wings have only one other goalie under contract, prospect Kaden Fulcher, who played for the ECHL Toledo Walleye last season. The Griffins on Thursday signed Pat Nagle to a one-year contract after he helped Toledo reach the Kelly Cup Finals.
Khan continues, noting that the Wings submitted a qualifying offer to Patrik Rybar, who may or may not play in North America this upcoming season.
Larsson suggested that the Griffins will probably bring in a veteran netminder to utilize as their starter…
And the Free Press’s St. James pointed out that the Wings have a fair amount of faith in Larsson’s potential:
I know it’s a good opportunity,” Larsson said. “There are still two great guys up there but they’re getting older. But I’m not looking at NHL next year – for me, I want to make that AHL team and I want to get as many games as possible to develop and in a future years maybe get that (NHL) opportunity.”
The Wings had the 35th overall pick and could have drafted any of two highly rated goaltenders, Pyotr Kochetkov and Mads Sogaard, who went, respectively, 36th and 37th (the Wings opted for another right-shot defenseman, Antti Tuomisto). They’re likely to add a goaltender for Grand Rapids via free agency.
The Wings drafted Larsson, who turns 21 in August, in the sixth round, 167th overall, three years ago. His numbers (3.86 goals-against average and .872 save percentage in 19 games for Djurgarden junior team) were unimpressive, but he’d struggled with injuries. Last summer, he missed development camp because he was still recovering from an injury suffered in February 2018 (his groin moved 11 millimeters off the pubic bone). He had surgery last September.
Larsson plans to go back to Sweden after development camp wraps Saturday, and then return in a month to train with Red Wings goaltending development coach Brian Mahoney-Wilson, focusing on preparing Larsson for a better quality of shots. There hasn’t been a lot of that this week.
“It’s not a lot of goalie practicing here,” Larsson aid. “It’s mostly just being out there with the other guys. It’s two hours for us goalies. It’s tough. It’s just grinding.”
Asked if anyone’s shot stands out, Larsson smiled. “I haven’t noticed. It’s hard to watch the other guys. I just try to stop the pucks.”
Both Khan and St. James posted videos of Larsson’s remarks…
Shifting gears, Michigan Hockey’s Michael Caples spoke with a pair of Michigan natives who are trying to impress anyone who’s watching the Red Wings’ summer development camp.
Fenton, MI’s Drew DeRidder played in 17 games for the Michigan State University Spartans this past season, and the 5’10” goaltender is living out a dream by playing for the Wings:
“This is awesome, this is a dream of mine,” the netminder said. “I grew up a Red Wings fan, I grew up coming to the games, I’ve always dreamt of this and it’s coming true. It’s a great opportunity and I just have to take advantage of it.”
DeRidder said that while he’s in front of the Wings’ staff, he wants to show he’s capable of a professional hockey career.
“I just want to prove to myself and everyone else that I deserve to be here,” the 5-foot-10, 167-pound goaltender said. “I guess that’s kind of my goal, and I thought today was a good start.”
Helping him navigate the crease this week are a few familiar faces, notably fellow Michigan-born goaltender Robbie Beydoun (more on that later) and former Michigan State teammate Taro Hirose, who signed with the Red Wings at the conclusion of the college hockey season.
“I have,” DeRidder said when asked if he crossed paths with the former Hobey Baker candidate. “I met up with him a little bit last night, that’s nice, it’s good to have a guy that you know pretty well here.”
“Oh it’s a huge honor,” Beydoun said. “Growing up rooting for the Red Wings, watching games, all my favorite goalies played for the Red Wings, so, throwing on that jersey and seeing my name on it was pretty cool.”
Beydoun, a Compuware alum about to start his third season with Michigan Tech, said he got a call from Red Wings goaltending coach Jeff Salajko inviting him to this year’s camp.
“He knows I’m a local guy and he’s seen me play a couple times; he thought I could add some competition to the camp here,” Beydoun said.
He has earned his spot; last year, Beydoun recorded a 1.98 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in 12 outings with the Huskies. The invite was unexpected, however.
“It hit me kind of by surprise. I wasn’t really expecting it. Right when I got the call, I was super pumped, told my family and since I’m local, they’re all trying to come out and watch me, hopefully they can.”
Again, Caples continues, and the Michigan natives in net have acquitted themselves well.