Wild first-round pick Filip Johansson: 'I will do all I can to make it'
ST. PAUL — Let's just say Filip Johansson still has a lot to learn.
Touring the Twin Cities this week for the first time since being drafted No. 24 overall last month, the 18-year-old Wild prospect had a somewhat puzzling assessment of the place he hopes to calm home in the future.
"It's very warm," Johansson said with a toothy grin. "I need some time to get used to that."
Nobody had the heart to tell the young Swede that it gets much, much colder in this neck of the woods. That's something he'll learn for himself if he accomplishes his goal of reaching the NHL.
Johansson took the first step in that process this week, participating in the Wild's development camp at the Xcel Energy Center. He and more than 40 other prospects are part a weeklong immersion program that provides a glimpse into what it's like to be a professional.
"We are just trying to teach them core habits," Iowa Wild coach Derek Lalonde said. "You want to slow things down and teach them some core habits. We can build on those from there."
"We would like them to leave with some knowledge in their pocket so they can continue to improve for the rest of the summer," director of player development Brad Bombardir added. "Hopefully they can use (what they learn) and get better."
The spotlight is on Johansson after the team picked him in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft. He was considered a reach by many draft experts — and even he was a little surprised to hear his name called so early.
"It was a dream come true," Johansson said. "They believe in me. They see something in me. I will do all I can to make it."
While he knows he needs more seasoning in his native Sweden before he makes the jump to the professional level, Johansson is focused on leaving a lasting impression.
"I want to send a good message to the coaching staff," he said. "(I want to take) a lot of things back home that I can work on every day. ... If I can take all the things here, and (apply) it to my life in Sweden, I think I can improve my game a lot."
The 6-foot-1, 176-pound blue liner already has impressed Wild officials with his intelligence and willingness to learn.
"He's a sponge," Bombardir said. "He's taking everything in from the people on the ice and the people in the gym. He's got just an unbelievable demeanor. You can tell he's a character guy and a leader even as young as he is.
"We like his size, too," Bombardir added. "He still can fill out. He'll probably puts 20 pounds on over the next few seasons. You get him out there and see him play, he's really good at retrieving pucks and getting pucks up ice and finding the right place to put the puck. We've been really happy with him."
In addition to bulking up, Johansson knows he also needs to work on his offensive skills. While he prides himself on making "fast plays" on the ice, he only had four goals and five assists last season in the Swedish Junior League.
"I try to be on the right spot on the ice and make quick decisions with the puck to help get up the zone," Johansson said. "That's important in today's game."
In the meantime, perhaps the most important thing for Johansson is staying patient. That's not as easy as it sounds after donning the Wild sweater this week.
"It's hard because I want to be here right now," Johansson said. "I know I've got stuff to do before I can make it. It's little things I need to do every day, like work hard, get good sleep, eat good, and everything like that. If I do that, I think I will have a good chance to make it."