Large Plant Giant Talent

There is much to learn about Adam Larsson.

My google translate told me Adam Larsson is a "large plant, giant talent." Pretty succinct. Anything else?

In September 2010, Adam Larsson was the favorite to be #1 overall at the 2011 entry draft. That’s not an enviable position to be in, because scouts and scouting services are watching every move. Any slump, any misstep, a bad tournament–and you’re falling down the draft rankings and costing yourself millions of dollars. It’s a very stressful situation, albeit one most of us would give valuable body parts to be in.

Kirk Luedeke did a great job of describing the situation early September:

  • The total package has a good chance of becoming the first Swede to go 1st overall in the draft since Mats Sundin because two-way defenders with size and skill are so coveted. For more of the nuts and bolts on Larsson’s skill level, see my previous post on him, but can’t wait to see him live in Buffalo this winter at the WJC. Most eyes will be on him after he put up a very impressive performance on Team Sweden a year ago at age 17. "He’s far and away the best player coming out of Europe this season, period and exclamation point," said one NHL scout who covers Europe for a western conference team via email. "He has the size, mobility, offensive game and is pretty polished defensively. The big question is- can he keep progressing after having such a good 09-10 season? If he does, then I think you’ll see him make a real claim on the top pick in the draft."

However, all that examination exposed some weaknesses and a poor showing at one tournament caused Larsson’s stock to fall in November. Redline Report:

  • Based on a report we received from our Czech scout at the tournament in Karlovy Vary, we’ve decided to make a statement by removing — for the first time this season — a member of our "Big Three." Adam Larsson was thoroughly underwhelming at the event, and in conjunction with our growing admiration for Gabriel Landeskog’s game, we’ve decided to elevate Landeskog into our top three, while dropping Larsson down to fourth overall.

At this point, early December, Larsson is still a valued prospect but cracks are beginning to appear. Larsson would need a strong showing at the World Junior championships. He delivered. Larsson had a strong world junior tournament and in January would return to the top of the scouting ranks.

However, in an interview just before the new year by Luedeke, Kyle Woodlief gave a frank assessment of Larsson:

  • I think that he’s going to be a really strong, solid defenseman in the NHL for a long time. But I don’t know if I would ever see him as a true number one defenseman. I see him more as a number two who’s going to eat a lot of minutes and be maybe a 40-45-point scorer. I don’t see him being that number one guy who’s going to come in and get 60-70 points and really lead a top power play. He makes a great first pass out of his own end. He plays solid, he plays physical. I’d like to see him, with his big body, to play physically a little more consistently along the walls and in front of the crease where he just kind of has a tendency to just lean on guys instead of getting aggressive with them. I think he’s a legitimate 15-year NHL player and number two guy who, on a poor team, will maybe play as a number one from time to time. But I don’t see him having that highest end that a Hedman or an Ekman-Larsson has.

 Larsson did not repeat the strong SEL season of one year ago. Here are the boxcar and some secondary numbers:

  • 09-10: 49gp, 4-13-17 -6 18pims 17:35TOI
  • 10-11: 37gp, 1-8-9 +12 41pims 18:44TOI

The offense is off, but we don’t have PP time on ice comparisons year to year and I can’t find a site that indicates a change in how he was being used. That plus minus is a beauty, but he did play on a strong team this year.

Larsson is at the top of Bob McKenzie’s draft list (it’ll be updated just before the draft) and his discussion with scouts involved a tight race for Larsson, RNH, Couturier and Landeskog. Stu MacGregor and staff have shown a strong tendency to take a pick "in the range" of their selection.

Conclusion? One of those four men is going to be an Oiler on draft day. Here are the Oilers selections during the MBS regime and their Bob McKenzie/Redline rankings:

  • 2008 Jordan Eberle (29 McKenzie; 22 Redline) Oilers selected him at #22.
  • 2009 Magnus Pääjärvi (10 McKenzie; 6 Redline) Oilers selected him at #10.
  • 2010 Taylor Hall (1 McKenzie; 1 Redline) Oilers selected him at #1.

Bottom line: NO ONE should be surprised if this young man is an Oiler draft night.

  • A couple of dandy defencemen in Larsson and Musil this year , and the year after looks like it might be a maybe better crop of forwards than this years . Logically ,if defencemen take longer , why not this year we for them , and the next focus again on forwards if we are remaining at the bottom again ? Trying to add defencemen later might be even more difficult , long and drawn out . Makes most sense to me to make this draft heavy(emphasis) on the backend !

  • Crash

    “I don’t see him being that number one guy who’s going to come in and get 60-70 points and really lead a top power play.”

    I like RLR, but I can’t help but feel that this comment suggests a bias against Larsson.

    How many defencemen scored 60-70 points last season? Answer: Keith and Green.

    Hell, how many scored over 50? Including Pronger, Doughty, Boyle, Gonchar, and Enstrom there were seven.

    Basically this criticism could be better worded to say that Larsson isn’t seen as a franchise-leading offensive defenceman. It’s hard to suggest that scoring in this range is a requirement for being considered a “number one defenceman”, whatever that is, otherwise there would only be 5-10 of them in any given year.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    I wonder how many people writing on here are putting down their selections based on the Oiler’s needs and not the BPA?

    Draft BPA and trade around to fill the holes if possible ie) Gagner for Defenseman X . That is unless we keep drafting only 1 particular player type…say smaller skilled forward, can’t have enough of those!

  • fuck off

    Just “don’t take R-N-H”!!!

    Seriously though, RNH scores a ton on the PP and likely won’t translate into a #1C at the NHL level. Couturier is the perfect shut down center man who might not have the mad skills of a first overall but isn’t a mistake to call out. Larsson, sure; Landeskog would be great but doesn’t play the position the team needs to fill. So Stu, do the right thing and ‘don’t take RNH’.

  • Of the top 10 scoring defensemen in the league this year ONLY 2 were drafted in the 1st round. Those two occupy spots 9 and 10, the highest taken defender is in 10th position.

    In +/- 1st rounders fare better in the top ten by defensemen. They have 3 players ranked 7,8,9 in +/-, although none of them are lottery picks. Suter is the highest drafted player among them at 7th overall.

    So I ask this. Why the hell would the Oilers waste a lottery pick on a defenseman when its more likely that they can find a defenseman in the later rounds who will add more offense or be more reliable defensively?

    • Adding to that, it is the exact opposite for Forwards in the top 10 in scoring.

      There are only 2 players who ARENT 1st rounders and 6 players were lottery picks.

      +/- is less clear cut but there are only 2 players who werent taken in the first 2 rounds.

      What that tells me is that forwards are generally as advertised, but defensemen are much less predictable.

      Larsson COULD be the next Pronger or he could be the next Cam Barker. Who the hell knows?

    • Horcsky

      Unlike forwards, defenceman can’t really be ranking by scoring…or plus/minus for that matter.

      Most of the top 10 scoring forwards would make someone’s top 10 list, but it’s probably the opposite for the top 10 scoring defenceman (ex. Wisniewski, Burns, Liles, J. Johnson).

      Take a look at something like Team Canada, for a better ranking of elite defenceman:
      2010: 5 of 7 were first rounders.
      2006: 6 of 9 were first rounders.
      2002: 5 of 7 were first rounders.

      • True. Also, defensive top ten time on ice per game 7/10 ARE 1st rounders. So it’s not like every stat supports taking a forward over a Dman with the lottery pick, But half the defensemen on that list aren’t playing for the teams that drafted them.

        Those dmen are getting moved out before they develop, and considering this fan base can’t wait for a 21 year old centre (who is already leading all the centers on the club in scoring) to get better, I don’t think they have the stomach to watch Larsson take 5 years to possibly become an impact player.

        • Peterborough

          Skrew what the fans want lets do what right for the TEAM!!! Its not like people are going to stop comming they’ll just bitch more . . . then say they were on board the whole time when this team is in contention in 3-4 years time.

    • stratedge

      I agree wholeheartedly. I think it’s the longer development time line for defensive prospects that probably makes them more volatile, but regardless, someone who’s ready to step into a prominent role in the NHL right away is “worth 2 in the bush”.

      Plus, by the time your defensive prospects develop they reach UFA status in a shorter amount of time. The way to build is to develop the forward core through the draft, and sign defensemen when it’s time to challenge.

  • Sorensenator

    Craig Button of TSN belives Ryan Nugent Hopkins will be the pick by Edmonton in the upcoming 2011 draft.

    According to Button, RNH has exceptional vision and makes everyone around him better. Although this may be true, Nugent-Hopkins is fairly slight and has yet to fill out his 6’0 frame.

    While it doesn’t make the least bit of sense to draft another small, skilled forward, it would, however, fill a void at center.

    Many of you are thinking, what about Couturier? A much larger center than RNH, he lacks foot speed and the so called “will” you see from playes like Taylor Hall.

    Add some more Swedes?

    The two most physical players of current top 4 projected draftees are both swedes…wait… what???

    Gabriel Landeskog, a player with size, grit, skill, and all of the above has insiders comparing him to that of Mike Richards. The Oilers are deep on the wings but many think a player like Landeskog would make an easy transition to a center position.

    The big bad Swede on the back end Adam Larsson has been projected to go #1 from multiple sources but hasn’t quite lived up to the hype this season. Despite having a steller world junior performace, Larsson has struggled in the offense part of the game with only 9 pts this season. His upside however, is logging big minutes, using his big body to gain position, and has an absolute cannon from the point. Ovechkin and Phaneuf both said it themselves, “I shoot, and sometimes it don’t go in”.

    It’s a tough choice this year folks.

  • There’s an opportunity to get another asset even if the team thinks “their guy” will be available at #4.

    My concern with Larsson was seeing his refusal to drop the gloves while getting ragdolled.

    Drafting RNH might be too much work for Tambellini…

    Landeskog/Couturier play next year.

  • Clyde Frog

    Yes obviously I hate hockey, I didn’t say any of those defensemen aren’t great but it was a misnomer to suggest they all entered the league after being drafted and produced like a number 1 in the first 5 years of their careers.

    They didn’t, playing defense is a position that requires a HUGE leap when you move on from playing against 180 pound 16-18 year olds to 210 pound 29 year olds. They physical tools are orders of magnitude different, this is why it is so hard to project them. You just don’t know if they are manhandling much smaller competition normally or if they have the ability to handle the big bodies.

    A forward can cheat his way out of physical confrontations a lot of times and can mature into that part of his game. Defensemen can either clear the net and go into the corners or play in AHL…

    As to the World Junior predictions, these are the same ones that had Ryan Omarra being the next Brad Richards, every canadian goalie ready to jump into Martin Broduer’s shadow and more. Their kids, the announcers know its their job to hype them and the tournament…

    Let me put it this way, no scouting reports or credible MM personality is throwing their career behind this kid being Lidstrom. Who also took 2 years to crack the league.

    I’m not saying the kid can’t be great, just history isn’t on his side when it comes to him being an impact player in the next 4-5 seasons.

    • Peterborough

      Larsson has been playing against men since he was sixteen. Just the facts. And he is on a very deep team at D and has been asked to play a shut down role. Runblad will be in Ottawa next year, wow did they ever steal him!!! Don’t miss this guy Stu!

      I trust whatever he does the late round picks last year made me a beleiver this year!

      • Clyde Frog

        Playing in the Swedish elite league against men since the age of 16 means nothing. PRV played in the swedish elite league since he was 16 but both Hall and Ebs have proven that they were more NHL ready by playing in the CHL against teenagers. dont get me wrong, the SEL is a great league, but I think playing in the CHL better prepares these kids for NHL duty.

  • Clyde Frog

    I keep reading all this talk about wanting to trade up for david musil? Has anyone payed any attention to him sliding in the draft rankings this year or do you just listen to bob mackenzie in september and assume everything stays the same. He’s not some sorta hero just cause his dad played in the show for the oil. hes projected as a late first or an early second. Figure it out, do your own research and stop citing what the TV told you at the start of the season

  • Horcsky

    Gagne’s play last night against Colorado along with Cogliano’s consistent play throws alot wrenchs into alot of arguements against drafting small skilled forwards.Omark was sick last night.That said. We need to draft a number a player to play with Hall and Eberle long term. We have Tyler Pitlick coming along to fill the #2 position and Anton Lander looks like he’ll fill the #3 position nicely. As to who we draft? Landeskog. He plays all the fw positions. including center and I see Hall moving to center next year anyway.With Landeskog’s skills he would compliment Hall and Eberle skill sets in so many many ways. He goes to the net hard. And has the size to park out front ala Franzen. And he has the soft hands. I like his game. He is my pick. Free Agency can get you a Dman.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    IMO im leaning towards Landeskog for #1 just because he can score, hit, fight(better than Hall anyway lol)and seems to do pretty good on the back check for a forward.

    The one glaring thing on RNH is his 170lbs and I really don’t think he will gain 30lbs by the time he hits 21, yes he can score blindfolded but in the NHL i wonder if he can score 30/yr with his stick frame.

    Couturier, this is the player that the Oilers will most likely draft just because he’s bigger than RNH and they REALLY need to shore up the center position.

    I dont see this years #1/2 pick on the team next season from what ive seen from any kid in the top 5 with the stuff Hall posseses, but the season after next for sure!

    This off season should be interesting(i hope), and most likely make-up Hemsky’s mind on weather he stays or go’s, Im sure he’s just as tired as the rest of us on the team spinning their tires,more that directed at piss poor management than players, Hemsky IS the best player on the team sure he dipsy doodles all over the place only to loose the puck sometimes but when everybody else just stands around a guy can’t do much on his own. SPEED UP THE RE-BUILD ST and get some vets that help get into the playoffs!!!

    P.S with all the hate directed at Gagner for being “too small, not a #1c” wasn’t Doug Weight Sam Gagner’s size when he came over from the Rangers? and look how good he became,and was still under 6′, shoot we all thought he was GOD before he left.

  • Clyde Frog

    comparing gags to the great dougie weight is offensive and a flawed comparison. both may have been under 6 feet tall but that is where the similarities end. gagner is physically overmatched, dougie wasn’t

    • a lg dubl dubl

      how so, gags is only 21, yes he can get pushed off the puck but if i remeber correctly so did Weight when he first came into the league and Im pretty sure it took Weight longer than 3yrs into his career to learn what not to do so he didnt lose the puck as often. If Sam can get to 20 goals and get closer to 60 points this year, that not to bad considering he’s been on the 3rd line most of the year!

  • Clyde Frog

    With our record of attracting UFA’s and trades to upgrade defence , why would any of you assume we would do our backend that way to begin with when Tams seem to make it clear we were building thru the draft ? It’s not like club has met with much sucesss thru Ufa’ s or trades to be honest ! Focus this draft i believe will be on backend if draft is their top priority to rebuild our club , and in their specified time line .

  • Clyde Frog


    They are older competition but the larger ice surface does give them a lot more time and space to play an angles game.

    Again, he might be good but I cringe at the development time most Defensemen go through.

    I’ll trust whatever Stu calls out though, having a paid scouting staff, hours of video and metrics to break kids down professionally always seems better than our gut feelings and guesstimates.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    RNH gets no love on the Oilogosphere. I doubt anyone would object if they actually knew what the kid could do, instead of stopping at the HT WT section of his scouting reports.

      • O.C.

        That’s a terribly poor comp. Couturier, to my knowledge has never been compared to Toews because they are nothing alike (but he has been compared to Joe Thornton) and the only comp drawn to Patrick Kane is that they are crafty and have success as smaller players. RNH has been compared to Sakic and Datsyuk.

        Given a choice between Datsyuk/Sakic or Thornton, I think the answer is fairly easy.

    • fuck off

      You’re dead wrong in assuming that we reject RNH based on physique alone!

      Do some research or read the back log of stories on here that go into better detail about RNH as a scorer. Couturier excells beyound both RNH and Landeskog at scoring 5on5 and Short Handed. RNH’s vast majority of point scoring occures on the PP which has prooven to NOT TRANSLATE at the NHL level after junior.

  • Matheson in a recent Journal Article:

    “We have a fairly good idea what the Edmonton Oilers’ game plan is for this spring — get that lottery pick so they hopefully take Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson, who, by all accounts, is better at this age than ballyhooed countryman Victor Hedman, who was the No. 2 selection in the 2009 draft.”

    Does he have the inside scoop here on who is at the top of the Oilers’ draft board? Gawd I hope not.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I agree with you here, I’m very afraid the Oilers are planning on taking Larson #1. I’m actually kind of hoping the team falls to the 2nd/3rd pick and that Larson is gone by then.

  • O.C.

    I was on the Larsson bus for a long time but he hasn’t set himself apart from the other guys and taking D at one unless he’s screaming superatar is too risky IMHO so I say we go C which seems to be more of a glaring need.

    And with his size and two way play Couturier is who I’d go with now. If he could even get to Jordan Staal status I’d be over the moon.

    Couturier is gone then I’d go RNH. It would be tough to pass on Landeskog but we drafted our superstar winger last year.

  • O.C.

    Can’t help but feel that the Oil are leaning towards a big forward with their 1st pick. The Penner trade is a tell… maybe. Let’s look back at the 2006 draft. Erik Johnson was that big Dman that was going to be the next big thing. Jordan Staal went #2 and Toews went #3. Do you think St. Louis would like a redo? Staal and Toews are both Stanley Cup winners. They don’t put up the best offensive numbers but they play in all situations and do all the little things right. This is what it take to win Cups. There’s a couple of guys in this draft that I believe are in this mould. If you take Larsson, you have to be 100% sure he is the real deal.

    • Lowetide

      Seguin. Or something similar. And ONLY if Seguin is clearly better than the first overall selection in the scouting staff’s eyes.

      Picking a guy like Larsson–and sending him back home for another year–gives the Oilers some cap flexibility moving forward and impacts the year all of these kids become UFA.

      Seguin’s clock is already ticking, like Hall’s. I don’t think they’ll deal the pick.

  • Clyde Frog

    I don’t see trading a top 3 pick overall this year, its not like any of the players aren’t expected to produce and don’t fill a hole on this team.

    They just are all very different body types and play the game different ways. Nobody is arguing they won’t contribute, just how and when.

    I would rather draft them, give them a year or two and if you sour on them make the trade later. Not like you can’t get return on a #1-3 overall pick, teams will always pay for a chance to take a shot on their potential.

  • O.C.

    Kyle Woodlief says some ridiculous stuff… a #1 defenceman comes in and scores 60-70 points?

    By that definition Pronger is not a #1 defenceman. By that definition there has been an average of 4 defenceman per year who fit that definition.

    Only Lidstrom has finished with 60+ points in more than 2 years since the lockout.

    If you are a 25 minute per night defenceman, can play the PP and PK and put up 45 points, that’s pretty much the definition of a #1 defenceman.