FTHM PART VI: ADAM LARSSON

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

Adam Larsson

European Skater

Skelleftea, SWEDEN

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.

MACGREGOR’S TAKE

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.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Also anyone else find this interesting that CSS said:

    “Adam is one of the best skaters in this year’s draft — he has excellent speed and mobility…”

    And Stu says:
    Concerns: “He’s a good skater but he’s not a great skater. His offence is only OK at this point.”

  • Got to commend you Rubin, this is the best info to date on the draft, great great series.
    I like that Couturier’s best asset is his defensive ability, when in fact, he still puts up the same points as the other top 5.
    Also, he is the only player to put up the same ppg the last 2 years in a row. Thats pedigree.
    He is also 6’4″.
    For that reason, he is my choice.
    We shall see if Stu’s choice is better in but 5 years time.

  • Mitch

    @Brownlee

    I was chatting with a friend the other day a season ticket holder, his feeling was that when you take a player #1 he has to be on the roster next yr. I understand what he’s talking about but I don’t feel the player needs to be on the roster if he’s not ready. This being said what is your take on this matter? When I ask this question, I don’t want the oilers to move down, there is many holes. My thoughts are Tambellini is about 6 to 8 players away from the playoffs as I watch games today 4 forwards 3 dmen and a goalie.

  • As far as I’m concerned.. pick the best player available.. and by that, I mean the player who will be the best in the long term.

    If it’s Larsson and it takes him a few years to get to that point, so be it.

    Why rush? We’re not going to have the cup in a year or two or even three. And yes, I do know there is SOME rush involved (to ensure we don’t lose players to free agency), but I think the core players will still be around when our 4-year project is finally ready.

    Patience should be exercised, even if we’ve been through hell already as fans and don’t want to wait any longer.

    That all goes for RNH too (or any of the other big names). If he’s the best player available now and we figure he will be in the future, then definitely go with him.