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Injury sidelined Johan Larsson for half the season, now he's on the mend

Johan Larsson was establishing himself as a regular center in the National Hockey League.

The 24-year-old was playing mostly with Brian Gionta and Marcus Foligno, creating opportunities with his speed while working off the hockey sense of Gionta and big body of Foligno. He was scoring goals. He was gaining consistency in his game.

And then came the last game of 2016. In a 4-1 loss to the Bruins in Boston on Dec. 31, Larsson skated off the ice and right off the bench with an injury.

By Jan. 3, Larsson was on the injured reserve list with a dislocated wrist and elbow. He missed the rest of the season, sidelined for 46 games.

Monday morning in KeyBank Center he sported a wrap around his left wrist but had good news on the slow but steady rehabilitation route.

"I've been good. Feeling way better now," Larsson said as the Sabres packed up their gear for the summer and had their final meetings of the season with the coaching staff. "It's just going to heal a little bit. I just took out the pins and now I'm going to rest and heal for a couple of weeks and then it's good."

There's no chance Larsson would be in the mix for any team with Sweden in next month's IIHF World Championship.

"No chance. Still kind of weeks out," Larsson said.

Larsson is a restricted free agent this summer which means a new contract for the forward who scored six goals with five assists in 36 games before the injury.

"I was going good, feeling good and then it happens," he said of the injury. "It was tough for sure and to watch it from the side is always tough. It's a tough league. You've got to be good every night but I felt good about my game before it happened."

Larsson finished off the 2015-16 season strong with three goals and three assists in the final five games.

J"ohann I thought at the end of last year really made strides in his game and in what he was for our team," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "And then he stepped into that the beginning of this year and through his 36 games. Again, you're talking about another guy you're missing and one of the reasons why you're missing him is because he was a pretty significant player for us."

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