2011 prospects: Lars Volden looking towards future in North America

By Holly Gunning

Lars Volden made a positive change in his playing situation this season, moving from Norway to Finland, and by doing so has increased his chances of being drafted to the NHL.

With the Espoo Blues Junior A team, he has a .912 save percentage and 2.68 goals against in 17 games this season. He is once again the starting goaltender for Norway at the U20 World Juniors, but thanks to his stellar play last year in Division I, Norway is now in the top pool. It’s been a tough go for such a small hockey country of about 5 million people. Norway will be relegated back to Division I next year.

Volden has good size at 6’3, and will likely be taken this year in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, after being passed over in 2010. A late birthday, he turned 18 at the end of July.
Hockey’s Future spoke to him in Buffalo at the 2011 World Junior Championships.

HF: This year you moved from the Norwegian league to the Finnish league. How has it been for you?

LV: It’s been pretty good so far. I play on a pretty good team. They’re very good with goalies there. I’ve learned a lot.

HF: Who’s the goalie coach?

LV: Marco Torenius.

HF: What parts of your game are you working on with him?

LV: My screens and seeing the plays. Just working on my hands and getting them out. Normal stuff. Being as relaxed as possible, have fun.

HF: When you decided to play for Espoo, you expected to play with its junior team?

LV: Yeah. I heard that was going to play on the junior team and practice with the men’s team sometimes and be on the bench with the with the men’s team. I’ve been on the bench two times and practiced a little bit at the start of the year and not so much in the season because we have so many games.

HF: Have you had to change your game at all, make adjustments?

LV: Yeah, they play a little bit more like the Canadian style in Finland. They go hard to the net, much harder than Norway. In Norway, they stand still and in Finland they move all the time.

HF: Are you learning any Finnish?

LV: (smiles) Ah, not so much, it’s pretty hard. They all speak English and Swedish.

HF: Do you speak Swedish?

LV: Yeah, I can a little. Swedish is almost the same as Norwegian. But I talk pretty much English in Finland.

HF: Your goalie coach, he talks to you in English?

LV: Yeah.

HF: You have good numbers there, are you satisfied with how you’ve done?

LV: Yeah, I’m satisfied. Some games could maybe be a little bit better, but overall I’m happy.

HF: Have you been talking to NHL teams more this year?

LV: Last year they talked to me after the season. I think Boston was looking at me last year. Four or five teams.

HF: Are you hoping to get drafted this year?

LV: Yes, of course (wistfully). It’s a big dream. Everyone wants to be drafted.

HF: Were you disappointed that you didn’t get drafted last year?

LV: No, not disappointed. There are so many good goalies. You just have to work harder.

HF: Is that a reason you went to Finland – to have more experience at a higher level and get drafted?

LV: Yeah. I went this season to get drafted. Need to go to a better league and play with better players.

HF: Your contract ends in 2012. Are you interested in coming to North America after that?

LV: Yes of course I want to play in North America.

HF: Even if you didn’t get drafted, you’d still want to come over here to play?

LV: Yeah, I hope so. I just have to work hard and do the best I can.

HF: How do you feel this tournament is going for you so far?

LV: It’s pretty hard because we are not such a big hockey nation. We just have to work harder and go hard to the net and try to score when we can. Take the chances we get.