2011 NHL Draft Prospect Preview: Adam Larsson
In the fall, Adam Larsson was a consensus top-two pick in this year’s draft. However, a lot has changed over the course of the season. With the emergence of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and Jonathan Huberdeau, the field has become much more crowded. Even with the draft less than two months away, there’s really no telling how the first five selections will play out. That said, if the Swedish blueliner does slip past Edmonton, Colorado, and Florida, one would have to assume that the Devils will be waiting for him at number four with open arms.
Ranked first among European skaters by Central Scouting, Larsson is the ultimate defensive package. At 6’3, 220 lbs, he is already physically built for the pros and possesses all of the tools to be a dynamic two-way defenseman in the NHL.
Larsson’s most impressive asset is his skating ability. The 18-year-old is exceptionally mobile for a player his size. His quick wheels allow him to jump in on the offensive attack and get back defensively when play heads the other way. He also sees the ice very well, has good offensive instincts, makes an excellent first pass, and has a booming shot from the point.
On the defensive side of the puck, Larsson plays like a seasoned veteran. He’s very calm and composed in his own zone, makes smart decisions, and has sound positioning and defensive awareness. Although he isn’t overly physical, he uses his large frame rather effectively and doesn’t shy away from delivering the occasional hit.
In the 2010-11 season, Larsson posted one goal, eight assists and a plus-12 rating in 37 regular season games with his hometown team, Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Elite League. He also represented Sweden at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship, scoring a goal and three assists in six games.
Though his numbers aren’t spectacular, they certainly don’t do him much justice. Larsson is an elite defensive prospect the likes of which the Devils have not had since they selected Scott Niedermayer third overall in 1991. He still has a long way to go to reach his full potential, but under the tutelage of hall of famers Scott Stevens and Larry Robinson, he could develop into the number-one defenseman the Devils have been longing for since the lockout.