The Buffalo Sabres might be in line for a long season, but Johan Larsson wants to be a big part of it.
Uffe Bodin of HockeySverige in Sweden (link in Swedish) interviewed the 22-year-old forward and found out he thinks he’s proven all he can in the AHL and is ready to make the jump to the NHL for good. Poorly translated quotes ahead:
“I’ve proven what I can in the AHL by playing well there,” Larsson said. “Now it’s time to take the next step.”
Larsson added that he feels he’s meant to play in the top-six and he’s worried he’ll start being thought of as a defensive forward rather than an offensive threat. He also said he’ll take any place on the big club if he’s earned it.
Last season in Rochester, he had 41 points in 51 games with 15 goals. In Buffalo, however, he played third and fourth line minutes and had no goals and four assists in 28 games.
If Larsson wants to be in the top six, there’s going to be a lot of competition.
Tyler Ennis, Cody Hodgson, Sam Reinhart, and Mikhail Grigorenko will all battle in camp for spots up the middle in training camp. While Hodgson is likely to wind up on the wing, Larsson’s performance could help force coach Ted Nolan’s hand with both Reinhart and Grigorenko.
Reinhart, the second overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, could be sent back to junior hockey while Grigorenko could wind up back in the AHL. Of course, Larsson could wind up back in the AHL as well. Long story short – training camp will be where the drama is at.