There’s no doubt a lot of fans like the thought of seeing a big, smooth defenseman like Adam Larsson patrolling the blue line for the Edmonton Oilers. The question is, do they have the patience to wait a bit longer for a player who could be a pretty complete finished product?
That’s also a question Oilers chief scout Stu MacGregor and GM Steve Tambellini will have to ask themselves before they use the first overall pick at the NHL Entry Draft June 24-25 in Minnesota on the impressive Swede.
Do the Oilers opt for the likelihood of a more immediate impact with a centre like the unquestionably talented Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or lanky Sean Couturier or do they look at Larsson, knowing defenseman usually take longer to develop?
While some fans will point out that Larsson is already playing against men in Sweden and might move more quickly along the development curve, the same was said about Magnus Paajarvi after his three seasons in the SEL. Adapting to a new country and a new language in addition to making the jump up in competition shouldn’t be dismissed.
That aside, while Nugent-Hopkins, Couturier and some of the other top-ranked prospects in the class of 2011 have credentials suggesting they might develop into dynamic offensive talents in the NHL, some scouts have questions about Larsson’s offensive upside.
While most amateur scouts consider Larsson a sure-fire NHLer, the money question is this: is there enough steak in the rest of his game to compensate for a possible lack of offensive sizzle?
THE SKINNY FROM CSS
Final Rank: 1 Midterm Rank: 1
Position: Defenseman Shoots: Right
Height: 6′ 3" Weight: 200
Born: November 12, 1992
Born in: Skelleftea, SWE
NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards
"Adam is one of the best skaters 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."
— Playing in his second full season with Skelleftea in 2010-11, he was only the third defenseman to make his Elite League debut at 16 years of age, following in the footsteps of long-time NHL defenseman Calle Johansson and current Tampa Bay blueliner Victor Hedman. His first game remains his most memorable hockey moment — "I had been sitting in the stands since age seven, now I was playing."
— He represented Sweden at the 2010 and 2011 World Junior Championship, finishing as the team’s highest scoring defender at the tournament in 2011 with four points (1-3-4). Sweden won a bronze medal in 2010 and finished fourth in 2011.
Scouting Report: "A great two-way defenseman with good offensive puck-moving ability. He’s strong and he competes hard on the boards in and around the net."
Projection: "A one or a two. Probably a two."
Best Case Scenario: "His most potential? Possibly a one."
Concerns: "He’s a good skater but he’s not a great skater. His offence is only OK at this point."
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.