Red Wings prospect Albert Johansson was the only Red Wings prospect named to Team Sweden’s roster for the Beijer Hockey Games, the next step of the Euro Hockey Tour, but it’s good news for Johansson, who’s never played for the Swedish national team before.
On Monday, Johansson spoke with Hockeysverige.se’s Rasmus Kagstrom regarding his good news, and what follows is roughly translated from Swedish:
“A shock—I did not think it was true”
When the unknown number appeared on his cell phone, Albert Johansson chose not to answer it. Then a text message from Marcus Ragnarsson appeared in his inbox—and the 19-year-old called and received the message that he had been selected for the Tre Kronor.
“I was a bit shocked and didn’t think it was true, to be honest,” Johansson says to Hockeysverige.se.
Taking part in Tre Kronor games was not something that Albert Johansson had expected this season. When assistant national team GM Marcus Ragnarsson tried to get a hold of Farjestad BK’s teenage defensemen, the 19-year-old didn’t answer when the unknown number appeared on his cell phone’s display.
It was only when he received an SMS [text message] signed by Ragnarsson that Johansson understood what it could all be about.
“No, I actually didn’t answer when he called me at first,” Johansson chuckles. “When I saw the ‘signature,’ it was obvious to call. It was a great conversation. I was a little shocked and didn’t believe it was true, to be honest.”
“DIDN’T HAVE ANY CONTACT AT ALL”
Johansson is of course talking about the conversation where Marcus Ragnarsson announced that Johansson had been selected for the Tre Kronor’s squad for the Beijer Hockey Games in Malmo next week. For Johansson, the tournament means that he can make his debut on the Swedish national team.
“It’s really fun, of course. It was nothing I had thought of or thought about, so it came as a little shock, I must say. But it was of course a very positive surprise, and it will be a lot of fun,” says Johansson, who did not have any contact with the national team’s management earlier in the season.
That may explain why he did not have Ragnarsson’s number in his phone’s contacts.
“No, we have not had any contact at all during the season until now, when Ragnarsson called.”
Now national team GM Johan Garpenlov is looking forward to a closer look at Albert Johansson during next week’s tournament in Malmo.
“He’s a very exciting player who has an incredible amount of talent in his game. We feel that he has a game that fits into our way of playing. He was away and played at the World Junior Championship where the level is very high and we think he did quite well there. Once you’re able to play at that level, it shouldn’t be a problem for him to deliver with us. We also like to have this mix of a little older and someone younger, who can come in and show us that he belongs at this level. But basically, he was selected because he’s a skilled hockey player,” said Garpenlov at Monday’s digital press conference.
IN HIS FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS
That Johansson would be allowed to test some games for the Tre Kronor was not something that the 19-year-old from Varmland could have imagined before the season.
“It was really nothing that I’d set as a goal for this season, but it’s really cool that it turned out like this. It’s proof that I’m doing good things here at home in Farjestad, most of all.”
What do you think that the national team’s management likes about your game?
“I think it’s above all, perhaps, my calm and my skating that stand out. Probably it’s also what the national team management has seen and liked. They want to test me and it’s cool that I get the chance.”
The 19-year-old Johansson has a lot to worry about.
His father, Roger “Ragge” Johansson, is an icon in the Farjestad crest, and had time for both games in the NHL and the Olympics and World Championship for the Tre Kronor during his successful career. But his son Albert has made his SHL debut earlier than his father Roger, and now can make his national team debut earlier than his father earned the chance to wear the Tre Kronor uniform.
“I didn’t even know about that,” says Johansson, with a laugh. “I have no idea how old he was when he made his debuts in different contexts. But now it’s definitely something I can take with me and maybe lean on him a little with.”
INTENSIVE CONTACT WITH DETROIT
Albert Johansson has a season behind him that has included both SHL games with Farjestad and World Junior Championship games with the Junior Crowns in Edmonton. Now the 19-year-old can look back with satisfaction on what has been so far—and look to his future with confidence.
“I’m happy with the season so far. I started the season very well, and got to score points, and gained a very good self-confidence. It felt really good. Then I dipped a bit after I came home from the WJC, and I didn’t reach the level that I knew I could play at.”
“Now in the last couple of weeks, I’ve found my way back to that level, and it’s gratifying. All in all, I’m satisfied. I have taken steps forward from last season, which was one of my big goals this season—to take big steps.”
Yes, how do you think you stand in the SHL today, compared to last season?
“I would say that I dare to do more things out on the ice today than I did last year. It feels like I’m contributing more as a player this season, and now I really want the puck out there and set up my teammates. I have considered much more this season.”
From a distance, the Detroit Red Wings, who drafted Johansson in the second round of the 2019 NHL draft, have been able to follow Johansson’s progress on SHL ice. They like what they’ve seen of him.
“They are satisfied. We talk quite intensely, me and (Niklas) Kronwall, above all, and he says what he says, and what they think. They come with a lot of tips on things I can think of, and what I do well. We have a really good dialogue.”