Adam Larsson, D Skellefteå AIK (Sweden)
Born: November 12, 1992 in Skellefteå, Sweden
Strengths: Excellent size with room to fill out and long limbs. Powerful skater who is smooth with his stride and footwork. Smooth and graceful in his movements; quick acceleration and fine speed. Moves well laterally and backwards. Very good puckhandler and passer from the back end. Makes the crisp breakouts and quick clears. When in control, has as much poise and skill as anyone...can confidently move the puck out on his own and will jump into the play. Good, hard shot-- getting more involved offensively as the games go on. Larsson has very good hands and vision for advancing the puck and hitting teammates with speed coming out of their zone. He plays a smart positional game and has a big shot. He can run the power play effectively as both a distributor and triggerman. He showed off his powerful stride and ability to move well laterally, and was especially good at moving the puck and making outlet passes. Larsson is a smart guy who sees the ice well and has a high panic point, meaning he'll hold onto the puck until the last possible second for his teammates to get open, meaning he often takes a good amount of hits over the course of a game and season. He also has a booming shot and can score his share of them from the point.
Weaknesses:Struggled with injuries this year- missing time because of an injury and he got banged up in a March 22 playoff game against Luleå, injuring his shoulder and not dressing for the next contest. With forecheckers in his grill, his decision-making deteriorates and he turns the puck over. Like most players, disrupt his time/space and he starts to make mistakes. As many with late birthdates who emerge as draft frontrunners early, he's had his game nitpicked and some wonder if he can truly be a legitimate No. 1 two-way cornerstone at the NHL level, but he has all the tools to be very, very good regardless. Needs to improve upper body strength, but will do so when he gets on an NHL strength and conditioning program.
Larsson defensive highlight vs. Nikita Filatov from You Tube (NHLDraftVideo)
Larsson goal vs. Russia in 2011 WJC (NHLDraftVideo)
Style compares to: Dan Boyle
Draft prediction: Larsson will be a top-three pick in the draft. We don't think Edmonton will pass on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins over Larsson, but we can only imagine their war room debates have been fierce on the subject. He's simply too good, too skilled, too appealing to drop. However, were he to fall to New Jersey, the Devils would be thrilled to snap him up. We see Colorado taking Larsson at No. 2 despite the rumors surrounding Jonathan Huberdeau. That said, we could also see the Panthers taking Larsson at three- even though they have taken defensemen with their top picks in 2009 (Dmitri Kulikov) and 2010 (Erik Gudbranson), Larsson would give the Panthers three big studs on the backline. Why wouldn't Dale Tallon want to do that. If he's somehow on the board when the Devils pick, then it's a no-brainer.
Projection: Very good No. 2 with lower-end No. 1 potential if he hits his impressive ceiling. Would be a No. 1 on a lesser club, and we don't say this to sell Larsson short- it's just that some of the comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom have gotten out of hand. There's absolutely nothing wrong with projecting Larsson as a top pairing defender, but seeing him closer to being a No. 2 than a cornerstone/franchise type. However, if one could prove B2011DW wrong in the prediction, it is Larsson. He has the tools.
Background: Born, raised and plays in the same hockey town that produced former NHLer Patrik Sundstrom. Father, Robert, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 1988 and played in the SEL for Skellefteå. As a 16-17-year-old rookie in the Swedish Elite League in 2009-10, scored 4 goals, 17 points in 49 games, generating a fever pitch around him going into the 2010-11 season. Has 1 goal, 9 points in 37 games this season as he fought through nagging injuries. Added 4 assists in 17 playoff games with Skellefteå AIK, with his team defeated by Farjestad in the SEL championship series (fellow draft candidates Jonas Brodin and Oscar Klefbom- DNP were on the winning team). Favorite NHL teams: Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings Favorite player: Nicklas Lidstrom
If Larsson had his own soundtrack it would be: "Steady As She Goes"- The Raconteurs
"Smooth Up In Ya"- Bulletboys
"He isn't a flashy guy who is going to wow you off the rush like (Ryan) Murphy but he can play mistake-free hockey and put up solid point totals like another certain Swede."- NHL scout to B2011DW; June 17, 2011
A Swedish defenseman with good puck handling and eye for the game. Incredibly calm on the ice. Very large for a player of his age. Plays very smart. A fast skater but could improve his acceleration. A good playmaker. Has good offensive skills which will develop with time. Positions himself well. One of the top prospects for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.- Matias Strozyk, Elite Prospects.com (full profile here)
“Adam is one of the best skater’s 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.”- Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to NHL.com
Larsson has look of top 2011 draft pick by Adam Kimmelman NHL.com feature
Another top-notch feature from In Lou We Trust on Larsson, this time from Kevin Sellathamby, whom I enjoyed meeting in Toronto at the Combine (and yes, I'm quoted in it, but it's an accurate and thorough profile)