Helge Grans prepared to use the World Junior Championship as a launching point for the new season

Helge Grans was all equipped to compete for his house nation of Sweden in the 2022 World Junior Championships final winter. But, identical to seemingly every thing else over the previous two years, COVID-19 delayed that chance.

Grans appeared in two video games with the Swedish nationwide group in December, recording three energy play assists in a pair of victories over Russia and Slovakia earlier than the event was abruptly canceled. It was a small pattern measurement, however Grans seemed to be in line for a main function on the blueline, enjoying large minutes in opposition to prime offensive prospects from different nations whereas serving to to run the group’s energy play unit, which had early success.

Now, along with his first professional season in North America behind him, which consisted of 56 common season video games and 5 postseason contests in the AHL with the Ontario Reign, Grans is again with Team Sweden and prepared to compete when the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship opens once more on Tuesday in Edmonton.

“It was very unhappy that it ended prefer it did, however I’m comfortable to get a chance to play it once more and it is going to be very enjoyable to do it,” Grans mentioned of the oddly-timed postponement. “I’m making ready my finest. I’m skating a lot and simply have to hold engaged on every thing.”

The 2020 second-round NHL Draft choice is one among three LA Kings prospects representing his nation in the showcase, together with Finnish forwards Samuel Helenius and Kasper Simontaival. While Grans is the lone participant with Kings ties on Sweden this yr, there have been loads of others in the previous. To identify a few from current years, Lias Andersson, Tobias Bjornfot, Samuel Fagemo, Carl Grundstrom, Adrian Kempe and Jacob Moverare have all represented Tre Kronor at the WJC.

Bjornfot lately joked that he would not provide any recommendation, since his group was eradicated in the quarterfinals. Grans defined that whereas he hasn’t been in day by day contact with too lots of his teammates in the months main up to the rescheduled occasion, he has nice familiarity with a lot of them from earlier tournaments and is trying ahead to being reunited.

“I’ve some good mates there and it is going to be very enjoyable,” the 20-year-old mentioned. “Some guys have been on the group for under-16, under-17, under-18, and all the manner up and a few are even from my district in Sweden, we have performed collectively since we had been 14 and 15.”

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Hailing from the city of Ljungby, Grans grew up enjoying ahead earlier than switching to the again finish about 5 years in the past after getting some recommendation from his father and two brothers, who all performed professionally of their house nation. His 6-foot-3, 205-pound body has at all times impressed scouts, now the younger professional is working to spherical out his recreation.

The final calendar yr has been a whirlwind of new experiences for Grans, who first arrived in Southern California final September to take part in Rookie Camp and the 2021 Rookie Faceoff, the place he performed two exhibition video games in Arizona with the group’s different prospects. He then participated in the NHL coaching camp for the first time earlier than he was assigned to Ontario for the begin of the AHL marketing campaign.

At first, the plan was to ease the younger blueliner into recreation motion whereas present process constant work and tutelage with Sean O’Donnell and Matt Greene from the Kings Development Staff. That technique was shortly derailed, nevertheless, when the large membership misplaced Drew Doughty and Sean Walker in the opening month of the season. Grans was pushed into an every-night function with the Reign, very a lot an on-the-job coaching for the righty.

He continued in that function for the the rest of the season, posting 24 factors on seven targets and 17 assists, together with 5 energy play factors (1-4-5). Just two months after the marketing campaign ended, with a yr of expertise beneath his belt, Grans was again at the Toyota Sports Performance Center for his first expertise with the Development Camp.

“Development Camp was a superb week for everybody to come and study a lot,” Grans mentioned. “The coaches have a lot of expertise to educate us and it was a lot of the stuff we had been doing throughout the yr. Repeating that stuff and hold engaged on getting higher.”

In addition to the growth workers, Grans credit fellow blueliner Cameron Gaunce, who he was paired with for a lot of the season, as somebody who made a large influence on his recreation and helped him study shortly.

“We performed many video games collectively and he taught me a lot,” Grans mentioned. “If we’re doing one thing unhealthy on the ice, he would inform me what to give attention to and the way we will get higher. He was a nice mentor final yr and it was very enjoyable to play with him.”

Gaunce is returning to Ontario for the 2022-23 season, his third with the Reign, and Grans might be comfortable to see him.

“That for certain makes an influence on the group,” mentioned Grans. “Having a vet like him, he is such a nice man each on and off the ice. It’s going to be nice to have him.”

With the assist of his growth coaches and teammates pushing him to new heights final yr, Grans expects to have much more confidence subsequent week in Edmonton when he goes up in opposition to opponents his personal age. That goes twice when contemplating he is practiced and performed in additional than 60 video games on an NHL-sized ice floor, which this yr’s event might be held on.

“I might say [playing on] the small rink could make me a little bit extra skilled,” Grans mentioned. “I like the small ice. Of course, in the starting, there are some variations, how to play with out the puck and with the puck. But I imply, the guys on the group in Ontario, these guys helped me a lot after which OD and Greener as effectively. They advised me how to play defensively and it has been good. It’s going to be a nice hockey event with many nice gamers. But the small rink as a Swede could also be a good factor for me.”

As a rookie to the North American fashion of play, he felt his recreation improved the most on the defensive facet of the puck after he labored exhausting to study extra about enjoying a shutdown function at the AHL stage.

“The defensive half on how to management and the way to play protection extra, I feel that may be what I discovered the most and improved my recreation on,” he added. “That’s what I labored a lot on final yr and I’m going to hold engaged on it this yr.”

The event might be a chance for Grans to jumpstart his subsequent season, the place he hopes to make a larger influence in the AHL and begin to compete for a have a look at the highest stage. Grans and Team Sweden kick off their event on August 10 in opposition to Switzerland, with a event preview to comply with subsequent week.

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