With their first round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft the New Jersey Devils have selected defenseman Adam Larsson from Skelleftea of the Swedish Elite League. Larsson, ranked 1st by Central Scouting (European Skaters) and 2nd by the International Scouting Services, adds size, two-way play and a franchise defenseman the Devils haven't had since the Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayers of the world patroled the blue-line for the franchise.
Despite being discussed as the top prospect in this 2011 draft class, Larsson slipped to the Devils likely because of the offensive needs of the other three teams drafting ahead of New Jersey. I though the Devils were lucky when they won the draft lottery.....this was even better!
Comments from the Devils management, ILWT staff and other experts will be added as they become available. Use this thread to discuss the Devils selection of Larsson.
For more information on Larsson be sure to check out the In Lou We Trust prospect profile on him here.
Tom Stivali's Take:
You can't see me doing cartwheels right now, but I am. I probably talked myself out of Larsson being available and focused on other players but I am ecstatic he was available to New Jersey. I believe in building teams with a solid defense. When you look at the Stanley Cup champions of the past few years, they all had about 4 defensemen who played the major minutes when the game was important. The Devils have now added one of those types of players with Larsson. He has been playing premium minutes in the Swedish Elite League the past two years and should fit the New Jersey Devils like a glove. He may stay in Sweden another year, but there is no reason he couldn't copy Victor Hedman's path and jump right to the NHL. With a contingent of Swedish players, either New Jersey or Albany will be a comfortable place for him to play.
Kevin Sellathamby's Take
While i'm abit disappointed the Devils didn't get Strome or SC, I love this pick. Larsson does everything. He's going to be QBing the PP. He's going to be on the PK. He can face tough competiton. He can handle himself against men. The 9 points he had this season isn't going to deter me about his puck moving ability- he's much better than most of the Devils D-men on the roster at moving the puck- he could potentially lead all devils D-men in points, and could be a 50+ point defenseman down the road. I compared him to Ryan Suter in my prospect profile of him- except he's going to be the Devils version of Shea Weber.
The Devils were going to draft the best player available, and they did. Total /sunglasses Larssony. YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Kevin Allen from USA Today in his blog post commented:
With Florida using the No. 3 pick to take high scoring winger Jonathan Huberdeau from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Devils have Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson land right in their lap. He might be the best overall player in the draft. He's definitely the best defensive prospect the Devils have had since Scott Niedermayer. Larsson will be a top-pairing defenseman. He is 220 pounds. He can skate. He can score. He can shut down the opposition's top players. He's much more advanced at his age than Viktor Hedman was.
A solid pick for the Devils. They know how to develop defensemen. As well, the Devils have some very good prospects in the system along with Larsson. They include Brandon Burlon, Jon Merrill and Alexander Urbom
"Im very happy and excited for next year to be going to the New Jersey organization. I'm very proud."
Larsson on possibly playing in NHL next season: "We’ll see. I’ll talk to the Devils and see what their plans for me are and of course ..." I want to play in the NHL one day. That’s my dream my whole life. Hopefully it will be next year."
Here are two stories from Rich Chere at NJ.com. First: "Devils are ecstatic at getting Adam Larsson" - here's a key quote from Lou in that story:
"I think we're all excited because of the type of player he is and the positional player he is as far as his upside," Lamoriello told The Star-Ledger. "Our scouts are ecstatic. I don't think we were surprised he was available. We were happy. Everybody has different thoughts as far as what their needs are."
Larsson will have a chance to win a spot on the NHL roster in training camp. He will also attend the Devils' prospects camp beginning July 11.
Second: "Devils' 2011 draft pick Adam Larsson: 'Nicklas Lidstrom is my idol'" - here's a key quote from that story:
Adam Larsson, the Devils' first pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, has been compared to Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
That's a lot of pressure, but it brings a smile to Larsson's face.
"I can't lie. My favorite player was Nick Lidstrom," Larsson told The Star-Ledger. "I'm glad to hear (the comparisons) but he's too big to be compared with. But, having said that, I will say my style is similar to his game. I like the way he plays, a two-way game."
Needless to say, he's real happy about being drafted by New Jersey. As he should. Welcome to the organization, Adam Larsson.
Tom Gulitti is at Minnesota for the 2011 NHL Draft. He has this short post on Larsson getting selected which includes this interesting and laudable quote from Rangers director of scouting Gordie Clark. You'll like it even if it comes from an employee of Our Hated Rivals.
Quotable II: “Larsson is going to be a top offensive defenseman. If a team feels that their priority is an offensive power-play D, if he goes one, it’s not a problem with me.” – Rangers Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark
John Fischer's take:
When Kevin did the Adam Larsson profile, I explained in the comments why I rated Larsson higher than Sean Couturier. I'm big on consistent performance from a prospect; and Larsson has fit the bill in a tougher league than Canadian major junior hockey. Look at his stats from the SEL's website, he has received big minutes with his club team in his last two seasons. Getting that at such a young age at a position that is heavy on reads, communication, positioning, and other attributes that come with experience really says it all of Larsson's talent.
I honestly didn't expect him to fall to fourth overall; so I'm ecstatic that he did. I really do think the Devils may have selected the best player in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. That said, let me pour some rain on the parade. While I love his potential and skillset, I don't think he should thrown into the NHL just yet. Great potential aside, he's an 18-year old defenseman. Let him play out his contract with Skellefteå AIK, let him play on their first pairing, let him get PP time, let him shoot more, and let him develop into what he can become. If he has a monster season in 2011-12, then let's re-open the discussion of throwing him into the NHL then. The Devils got a great prospect and they can afford to be patient.
One additional note, I was at the Devils' draft party outside of the AmeriHealth Pavilion. The crowd wanted Larsson the moment Pierre McGuire mentioned his name. They got more and more excited with each pick. When Jonathan Huberdeau was selected for Florida, the masses went wild with anticipation. After a shoutout to the Bruins for their Cup win and to the party from Lou, David Conte's announcement thrilled the crowd. The New Jersey Devils didn't just take the best defenseman available and the best player available. The Devils made the people's choice. I don't think there's a Devils fan who can hate this pick.
Here's a quick opinion from Corey Pronman's Twitter acount. Pronman did a lot of analysis for the prospects in this draft for Hockey Prospectus. Like Kirk Luedeke, he is a Guy Who Knows Things. Here's what he had about the Larsson selection:
If you wanted to read whether someone thinks he's a #1 defenseman, then this should please you. Anyway, speaking of Kirk Luedeke, here's his short take at Bruins 2011 Draft Watch - where the Dougie may or may not be happening non-stop right now.
New Jersey Devils got themselves a tremendous value in Swedish defender Adam Larsson, who dropped down to them at four.
We've always loved his skill and poise, and you heard it would happen- not surprised it did. But, that's the victor getting the spoils- Devils won the draft lottery and did a Jeffersons-like move on up to grab the skilled puck mover.
Last update for the evening - David of Talking Red tweeted this video from the Devils' official Youtube page. It's Adam Larsson speaking! And he, well, doesn't have a whole lot to say. Well, it's something at least.
Thank you all for reading. More later as it happens. Sound off below about Adam Larsson!