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.

  • Hey LT-

    On one of your comments on your blog yesterday you suggested that a Hemsky for Johansen deal could be possible in the coming summer. What would suggest that C-bus would do this deal this year if they wouldn’t have last year at the draft?

    • Lowetide

      Actually, I was just repeating something Elliott Friedmen mentioned on Oilers Lunch last week (Dustin Nielson was filling in for Bob).

      And it wasn’t what Columbus was offering, that was the Oilers pricetag for Hemsky.

      I don’t know that they will go for it in the summer, but another season outside the playoffs may increase the pressure.

  • Hemmertime

    D men are too hit or miss for a #1. You’re almost as likely getting a good D man in the 5th or 6th round. Since 1990 5 D men have gone first overall, Hamrlik, Jovo, Berard, Phillips and Johnson. Id argue only Jovo became “elite” (and only for a couple season) and if all the drafts were re-done all the others would not be drafted #1. Berard had a couple good seasons but was never a top D man in the league.

    Since 1990 13 FW’s have been taken #1. Only Daigle and Stefan have been busts. Every single other FW has turned into a top echelon NHL player. Crosby, Stamkos, OV, Thornton, Lecavalier, Kovy, Nolan, Lindros…

    Take the FW, they dont take 3/4 of a decade to develop and are better odds.

    • ubermiguel

      Well said. Any d-man selected next draft will be peaking 3-5 years after Hall/Eberle/Pääjärvi have hit their prime. Draft a centre, start winning some games, pick up some UFA d-men.

    • misfit

      I never really know what to think about comments like this. On one hand, spending less time on the powerplay would help to explain his numbers dropping a little (though you never want to see that). On the other hand, you’re expecting this kid to go 1st overall, but he can’t even crack the #1 PP unit on his team.

      Every day, I lean more and more to wanting the Oilers to take Larsson over one of the forwards, but there are questions about all 4.