After leading the Denver Pioneers to a resurgent season, freshman goaltender Filip Larsson inked a three-year, entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, forgoing his last three years with the program.
The Red Wings drafted the native of Stockholm, Sweden, in the sixth round, 167th overall in 2016 and the netminder has had a strong transition to the North American game since arriving in 2017.
As a rookie with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm in 2017-18, Larsson was named Goaltender of the Year after leading the league with a 1.65 GAA and .941 SV%; his seven shutouts were second-most. Larsson finished the season with an 18-10 record after a groin injury ended his season in early January.
Larsson joined Denver of the NCAA ahead of the 2018-19 season where he missed the team’s first two months recovering from surgery to repair his groin. Upon entering the lineup, the Swede went 13-6-3 with a 1.95 GAA, .932 SV%, and four shutouts, starting in 22 of the Pioneers’ final 30 games.
Larsson led Denver back into the NCAA Tournament after a season hiatus following its 2017 NCAA title. Back-to-back shutouts carried the team to its third Frozen Four in four years before falling to UMass in an overtime semifinals game.
“Filip, although his time was short with us, made a huge impact on our team this season,” Denver coach David Carle told College Hockey News. “These decisions are very tough on student-athletes and that's a testament to Filip's character and what Denver means to him. He is ready for the next level and we can't wait to cheer him on and watch his successes.”
Larsson’s impressive season was enough to earn a contract from the Red Wings, which kicks in this fall for the 2019-20 season. Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said the plan is for Larsson to join the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins next season.
Griffins netminders Patrik Rybar and Harri Sateri split starts this season and are entering restricted and unrestricted free agency this summer, respectively, suggesting Larsson will see a lot of action next season at the professional level. Or possibly before.
UPDATE: The #Griffins on Tuesday signed goaltender Filip Larsson to an amateur tryout.— x - Grand Rapids Griffins (@griffinshockey) April 16, 2019
The @DetroitRedWings on Monday agreed to terms with Larsson on a three-year entry-level contract that will begin with the 2019-20 season.
📰 https://t.co/D3TeKe6Hlo pic.twitter.com/nIPtgWPPTn
The signing of an amateur tryout allows Larsson to join the Griffins for their Calder Cup run, where they’ll look for their third AHL championship since 2013. Whether he sees game action or not, the chance to be a black ace and earn some practice time should set him up nicely for a summer of training ahead of the 2019-20 season.
Larsson, who turns 21 in July, has climbed his way to the top of Detroit’s goaltending depth chart. A strong season with the Griffins could see him take over the starter’s role in Detroit following expiration of Jimmy Howard’s contract in 2020.
As a goalie, Larsson’s development could be instrumental given the organization’s strong farm system and developing core of young players following another tough season.
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