Kukla's Korner Hockey
by David Pavlak on 08/09/11 at 04:38 PM ET
The Devils seemed to be all smiles this past NHL Entry Draft when it came time for their selection with the number four overall pick. Originally contesting to be the number one overall pick, Adam Larsson, was still on the board. With a Devils defense which was not what it once was, any major boost was a major bonus.
The upside to Larsson is huge, and the downside is minimal, making the pick a no-brainer move. It has been quite a few years since the Devils had the devastating services of Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer. Those names are synonymous with the Devils Stanley Cup victories, and fans will be hoping to add Adam Larsson’s name to that list of synonyms.
Looking at the defensemen on the roster already, they would be considered average at best. The highlight of the group would be Andy Greene, who played in all 82 regular season games and posted 23 points. The Devils defense was leaky last season which didn’t help the Martin Brodeur at all, but with a fairly young defensive squad, there are going to be breakdowns. Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov will also be important role players for the Devils defense this year.
The question being asked a lot as of late is if Larsson will even play in the NHL this year. Questions about his burst of speed are one of the main reasons for the harsh criticism. My best guess would say that Larsson will be playing with the Devils this year either on the first or second line. This is the guy the Devils have been waiting for. He is a puck moving defenseman who can get the puck out of trouble when it ends up deep in the zone. He does have speed on his skates; it just seems to get lost sometimes during the run of play. His skating and stamina will have to be improved upon a bit in order to make him a full-fledged NHL first line defenseman.
Let’s not forget another key aspect of his game. All the Devils will have to do is draw the puck back during an offensive zone face-off in order to see the heavy shot of Larsson test the opposing goaltender. He may not rack up 20 goals, but his shot should leave a lot of juicy rebounders waiting to be put in the back of the net by the Devils forwards. He is a pure two-way player and the Devils will realize this during training camp.
Speaking of training camp, everything for Larsson starts there. I do not see him coming in with a big head, but he will have to work his rear off in order to secure a spot with the Devils. Large caps of inconsistent play could wind him up in Albany, and then the uncertainty of when he will be called up sets in. If he comes in, plays hard, and earns his spot, the Devils should be happy with how that translates on the ice during the regular season.
What do you see in the future for Adam Larsson? Do you think he will be a draft-day gem, or a bust in the making? Leave a comment and let me know!
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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