Our annual Top 25 Under 25 series serves to find the best young players in the Buffalo Sabres organization, be it NHL, AHL, European or junior leagues. We voted on everyone from Asplund to Willman, and the best 25 players get profiled throughout the month of September. Today's subject: Johan Larsson.
Johan Larsson, C/LW
Age: 24 Height: 5’11’’ Weight: 200 lb
There was a time when Johan Larsson was considered something of a disappointing prospect in the Sabres system. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft by the Minnesota Wild, he was dealt to Buffalo in the deal that shipped Jason Pominville out West, and struggled for a while to find consistency and production in his few short stints in the NHL despite seeing decent AHL production.
After his first full year in the NHL, however, Larsson has carved out a nice niche on the Sabres roster as a defensively sound forward who chips in on offense, has decent possession numbers, is good in the faceoff circle, and plays a strong two-way game. Paired for a few months with Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta, Larsson scored a career-high 10 goals and 17 points with most of that coming after this trio found good chemistry towards the end of the year. All three play a physical game and can put a few pucks in the net, making them a fine bottom-six trio, should Dan Bylsma keep them together.
What Larsson needs to prove is that he can play the way he did in the final two months of last season (10 points in 18 games) for most of, if not all of, this season. Consistency has been an issue for Larsson in the past, but if he can keep his production levels up all season, the Sabres will have found a young, versatile, two-way center in their bottom-six, giving the team some depth, which it sorely needs.