August 12: Larsson has indeed opted to return to Brynas, per a team release today. Brynas has Larsson locked in for three seasons, making him 33 years old at the end of the deal. Considering how effective Larsson still was this past season, though, an NHL return at that point shouldn’t be out of the question.
August 10: It appears as though Johan Larsson is heading home, as reports out of Sweden have the free agent forward signing with Brynas, the organization that developed him. Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports tweets that Larsson, who played for the Arizona Coyotes and Washington Capitals last season, had offers from several NHL teams but wanted a bigger role.
He actually received that bigger role in Arizona, where he averaged nearly 18 minutes a night for the 29 games he played. That resulted in 15 points during his time in the desert, and the continued excellent defensive play that he has brought his entire career. Even in Washington, where he saw a dramatically reduced role, he added six points in 14 games, and entered the summer as an interesting option for teams looking to increase their center depth.
Now 30, Larsson has always been an excellent defensive presence and has nearly 500 games of NHL experience. His previous career-high was 18 points, set in the 2019-20 season but he broke that in just 43 games this year. Going unsigned is rather surprising, even if it is because he was looking for a bigger role. Heading back to the SHL now could very well end his NHL career.
Of course, it’s not just role. Larsson played years for Brynas before coming to the NHL, winning U18, U20, and Elite League titles with the organization during his time there. If he does return, it will be the homecoming of a legendary club player, even if his North American career wasn’t everything he had hoped. In 488 career regular season games, Larsson scored 53 goals and 132 points.