Kukla's Korner Hockey
by David Pavlak on 08/17/11 at 04:00 PM ET
All reports are looking as if Adam Larsson SHOULD be NHL ready come this season. He was playing solid defense during training camp for the Devils, and his work ethic seemed to be ready to make the big jump. He could be a big asset for the Devils on the blue line, who will need to be more consistent this year in order to have a good season. The Devils will be happy with an uneventful season in regards to the media surrounding the team, as long as it means that they are winning.
I would not be surprised if the Devils move Larsson down to Albany for the first month or so if he is not ready to go right from the start. If he gets a little seasoning on him in Albany, it should speed up the process to move him back up to Newark. I do not see him playing for the Swedish Elite League; the Devils want to hold onto this ace in their hand. Devils fans will be hoping for nothing but positives from Larsson, as I feel he could have a lot of qualities which will make him become a true fan favorite, especially since he is so young.
If Larsson starts that first opening night with the Devils, I would imagine that DeBoer will pair him with Henrik Tallinder to give him some veteran leadership on the ice. He can easily play the first or second line depending where DeBoer feels necessary. He is a finely crafted player who is able to move the puck out of the zone and up the ice, something that Brodeur will be thankful for if he can do it regularly for the Devils. There have been some questions about his speed, but reports are conflicting with one another. He seems to have average speed and should not have a problem with some of the pesky, quick forwards.
Another defenseman that could see some time on the blue line is Alexander Urbom. He played with the Devils already last season, and scored his first NHL goal in his short eight game run with them. The defenseman registered 23 points in Albany after playing in the WHL the season before that. Urbom is a big, strong defenseman. He is 6’3 and is able to flatten someone out on the boards or check them in the open ice. Of the 23 points he registered in Albany, only two were goals. I don’t think you will see him lightning the lamp even occasionally, but his presence will be known when he is on the ice from a physical standpoint.
He had a nice camp with the Devils during the offseason. What could hurt Urbom the most is that Larsson is now in the picture. If they battle for a starting job on the Devils, Urbom almost certainly seems like he would lose out. That’s not to say he won’t be battling. If he is sent back to Albany to play this year, I project he would be one of the first call-ups if someone becomes injured. I would image he plays in close to 20 games if someone becomes unable to perform or the Devils are looking to shake up their defense. He is still young, and has all the drive and energy to move up in the organization as long as he keeps working at it.
Devils fans shouldn’t forget that they also have Jon Merrill waiting in the wings after his time at the University of Michigan. With tremendous promise to his game, the Devils look like they could have a young, but skilled defense in the next five seasons or so. If they keep everyone in the organization, it could be likely that they once again have that stellar shut-down defense of years past.
With two defensive players talked about, it’s only proper to turn our attention towards a couple of offensive players for the Devils.
Mattias Tedenby split time with the Devils and Albany this past year. Let’s get this out right off the bat; he does have skill on the ice and with the puck, and he is fast. What more could you want? This skill could go to the next level if he harnesses it and is coached properly. He is very fast and has the ability to score goals even though he is undersized. Remind you of anyone in the Devils organization already? During his 58 game stay with the Devils this past season; he had eight goals and 14 assists.
He missed the Devils camp this offseason because of Visa issues trying to get back into the states. This could potentially hurt his chances of starting with the Devils this year, as others have shined, leaving his name out of the heads of the coaches and especially Lou Lamoriello. He should be given the chance to play during the preseason games with the Devils and not be sent down to the AHL. These games will be crucial in whether or not he stays. He already missed his first audition because of Visa problems; he can’t have a bad showing during the preseason. He will need to be ready to go, and able to score, in order to stay up with the team. I think he will be able to do that, and should be on the roster for opening night. That’s not to say he won’t see some time in Albany if he begins to slack off on the ice. Either way, he should be spending a majority of the season in the NHL. I’m willing to guess he finished with 30 points.
Finally we will take a look at Jacob Josefson. Having a similar season to Tedenby in regards to time spent with the Devils and in the AHL, this is another player that has a nice upside to him. He makes smart plays on the ice and seems to know how to handle different situations when they arise. These are keys qualities for the center. He is also plays a solid defensive game, making sure to help out his teammates every shift. He is not known for his goal scoring ability, but has shown he is capable of finish off a play. Criticism surrounding Josefson is that he would rather look for a pass then a shot. Not a bad habit, but not a particularly good one either. A little selfishness never hurt anybody. He played in 28 games for the Devils last season, and had 10 points, seven coming from assists. With Albany, he recorded 12 points.
One day Josefson will be a consistent two-way second line center for the Devils. I don’t believe it will be this year though. I see him spending most of his time in Albany with the Devils calling him up for injury purposes only. A couple more seasons and development, and maybe then Josefson will be ready. He has the ability, but just needs to grow into being able to play the NHL style game.
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