Adam Larsson: 2011 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

As John mentioned in the first post of this series, we will be profiling various draft prospects- the big name guys whom the Devils may draft with the fourth overall pick or guys whom the Devils may draft with later round picks. In today’s profile, I’ll look at one of the prospects who the Devils might use the fourth overall pick to draft.

Today’s profile will be about Adam Larsson from Skelleftea , the top ranked European Skater and a potential candidate to go first overall. While there have been guys who have improved their stock thanks to strong seasons like Jonathan Huberdeau, Gabriel Landeskog or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Larsson was a favourite amongst the ILWT staff during our midterm roundtable, as both John and Tom chose the big Swede as their pick.

Of course, we all know that the Devils have drafted prospects from the SEL in the first round in recent years- Mattias Tedenby at 24th overall in 2008, and Jacob Josefson at 20th overall in 2009. Both were regarded as top prospects and are now part of the team's future. Larsson's been a standout during his career in the SEL, amongst grown men too. The Devils have struck gold with SEL standouts in recent years, so there could be a chance history repeats itself.

Who is Adam Larsson?

Season

Goals

Assists

+/-

PIM

2010-11

1

7

+12

41

 

Adam Larsson is a defenseman who is playing his second year in the Swedish Elite league. Larsson had a strong rookie season, posting 17 points against grown men as a 16 year old. Quite impressive I say. And regarding how he did that when he was only 16- he’s one of three defensemen to debut in the SEL at 16. The other two are Calle Johansson and former 2nd overall pick Victor Hedman. While Hedman was able to make it there, Tom pointed out that Larsson played a more important role with his team than Hedman did at the same age.

While Larsson’s 8 points this season might not be nearly as good, Larsson was used in a more defensive role while his partner Tim Erixon did most of the offensive work. In international competition however, Larsson proved to be one of the best players on his team. In 12 games at the WJCs (U-20), he has recorded 8 points (2G 6A) while only collecting 4 penalty minutes.

Because Larsson is already in the SEL, he automatically has pro status, meaning he can be assigned to the AHL immediately so he can get used to the North American game.

Highlights

Senators Scout Pierre Dorion talks about Larsson (and Sens prospect David Rundblad)

Larsson stops Nikita Filatov from getting past him



Larsson scores at the WJCs against the Czech Republic



Larsson scores a PPG against Russia



What people have been saying

"Larsson had some up-and-down performances in international tournaments, but saved some of his best for the World Jr. Championship. He showed off his powerful stride and ability to move well laterally, and was especially good at moving the puck and making outlet passes. Larsson is a smart guy who sees the ice well and has a high panic point, meaning he'll hold onto the puck until the last possible second for his teammates to get open, meaning he often takes a good amount of hits over the course of a game and season. He also has a booming shot and can score his share of them from the point. Larsson was not a dominating player, but that's not really his game."

"You're looking at the first or second overall pick with this kid- make no mistake about that. It will be interesting to see how he develops at the NHL level, but given his pro experience abroad, don't be surprised to see him in the big show as early as next season if his contract situation permits. He has the physical and mental makeup to play right away."- Kirk Luedeke

"Essentially, Larsson came across as a smart, heads up and tough player, not a blazing skater but an extremely adept and shifty one, as well as being a strong, clever puck mover, a player who almost always makes the right move with the puck, even under pressure. Imagine a bigger version of tough, clever and shifty Jordan Eberle, and this guy playing defence. That’s Adam Larsson, at least on first glance"- David Staples from the Cult of Hockey

"Adam is one of the best skater’s in this year’s draft -- he has excellent speed and mobility. He also has patient puck handling abilities and can surprise an opponent with a solid hit. His size and skating ability make him comparable with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman."-  NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards

"Do his numbers jump out at you? They shouldn't, but when you compare Larsson's performance in the past two seasons when he was 16/17 to Rundblad and Erixon you can see how advanced defensively he seems to be.  At age 16 Larsson was on the ice for roughly 17 minutes a game in the regular season/playoffs.  Rundblad/Erixon didn't get those type of minutes until they were both 18 years old.  This year at age 17 Larsson was playing almost 23 minutes per playoff game (for a team that went to the finals).  Rundblad/Erixon also played a similar amount of minutes...at age 19." – Tom Stivali

My Opinion on Larsson

Personally, if Larsson does make it to 4th overall, I wouldn’t mind the Devils drafting him at all. Sure, the Devils have lots of defensive prospects like Urbom, Gelinas, Burlon and Merrill, as well as Mark Fayne, who will likely be part of the Devils next season. Plus with Anton Volchenkov under contract for another five years, the Devils have quite a lot of defensemen in their long term plans. However, Larsson has proven at a young age he can perform against men his age as a teenager, something a lot of North American prospects have yet to do because of the Junior Leagues. Larsson looks to be a guy who is capable of being used in all situations- offensively, defensively and on both special teams units- a true top defenseman.

As for his downsides, my biggest concern would be injuries. Larsson had a solid rookie season the previous year; however injuries hurt him this season as he missed some time due to a groin injury. Because he’s so patient with the puck, opposing forwards will be able to hit him hard and often, which might lead to his body slowly getting worn down. Another potential concern with Larsson might be his english- however it might not be much of a concern. He struggles with it, but he’s pretty calm when it comes to interviews. If the Devils were to draft him, it might not be much of a concern. 

Like I’ve mentioned before, Jonathan Huberdeau’s rise has clouded up the top 3 abit. However, many people do not feel that Larsson won’t be a top 3 pick, simply because he’s NHL ready and he’s easily the best defenseman in the draft. Larsson’s capable of becoming a minute eating defenseman who can play in all situations. If he slips to 4th overall, the Devils will draft him less for the positional need but because he’s the best player available.

NHL Player I’d compare him to…

Ryan Suter: Top pairing defenseman who excels in all aspects of the game- Larsson has the potential to put up points and shut down the opposition.

Your Thoughts

If the Devils draft Larsson, would you be happy with it? Do you think the Devils will strike gold again with the Would you prefer they take another defenseman like the intellectual Dougie Hamilton, the offensive dynamo Ryan Murphy, or the reliable Nathan Beaulieu? Would you be happy with a center like Jon Huberdeau, Sean Couturier or Ryan Strome? Sound off in the comments.

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