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'Dream come true' for Wild's Liam Ohgren

LAS VEGAS – Liam Ohgren expected to be playing this late into the season, just not in the NHL with the Wild.

His Swedish team finished atop the standings, and Ohgren figured they'd be in action until May when the playoffs conclude. Instead, Färjestad BK was swept out of the gate, and that catapulted Ohgren toward an opportunity he didn't think would happen at this point of his career but a milestone he's long coveted.

"It's unbelievable," he said.

Ohgren made his NHL debut Friday when the Wild faced the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. The winger became the first draft pick from the team's 2022 class to arrive and the latest prospect to earn a spot in the lineup as the Wild eye the future after not making the playoffs.

His dad Andreas, mom Teresia, stepfather Linus, brother Noel and girlfriend Juni were at the game.

"It's been my dream since I started playing hockey," said Ohgren, who wore No. 28, before the game. "It's going to be special, for sure, and it's really fun it's going to be in Vegas."

Already, this had been an eventful season for Ohgren.

After missing about three months because of stress fractures in his back, Ohgren returned in time to suit up for the World Junior Championship, where he captained Sweden to a silver medal.

Then with Färjestad BK, he racked up 12 goals and seven assists in 26 games.

"I'm really happy that I chose Färjestad as a team," Ohgren said. "They helped me so much, and they've been so great to me. I got back to world juniors, which was an unbelieve experience to play at home [in Sweden]. Then I finished the season with Färjestad. I think I played really well at the end, and unfortunately we got out of the playoffs pretty early. But overall a great season."

Once Färjestad BK was eliminated, Ohgren went to the American Hockey League.

The 20-year-old appeared in three games with Iowa before the Wild beckoned him to their roster, with Ohgren learning the news after Tuesday's game against Rockford.

"They said that they think I'm ready for this step, and they wanted me to go to Vegas," said Ohgren, who was the 19th pick in 2022 and signed an entry-level contract soon after. "That was pretty insane."

Touted as a smooth skater who's strong on the puck, Ohgren is getting more than a once-in-a-lifetime memory from this promotion.

This is a chance for him to adjust to the Wild and NHL, which has smaller rinks than in Europe, before reporting for training camp in September. Goaltender Jesper Wallstedt, who is scheduled to start Saturday at San Jose, is in the same position after getting elevated from the minors last week.

"You really get a sense of where you truly are and how hard the league is and how good it is," coach John Hynes said, "and I think that sometimes can ignite players for their training and getting themselves to the next level."

Ohgren hopes he's ready to stick with the Wild for good.

"I'm going to do everything I can to make the team next year," he said. "I think I've developed a lot this year and feel like I'm taking steps every time. So, I am going to do everything I can."