The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/20/11 at 08:20 AM ET
This Sunday morning’s usual crop of notebooks generally focus upon the ramifications of the general managers’ meetings, from Larry Brooks’ lambaste of the NHL’s new concussion protocol to the Boston Globe’s Kevin Dupont’s “state-of-the-present-game’s safety-via-an-alumnus’s assessment notebook, Terry Frei’s belief that more “bravery” is needed from progressive-minded GM’s, a discussion of the new stanchion pads which will be installed in most rinks next season from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo and even a few comments about concussions from Mathieu Schneider and an update on the NHLPA’s stance on visor use via the Vancouver Province’s Jim Jamieson...
But the really intriguing comments of the morning come from the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, whose slate of Hockey World (and “More Hockey World”) offerings include both one Oiler’s take on concussions and a scouting report regarding one of the most intriguing draft prospects to come along in quite some time—in a player who’s being explicitly compared to Nicklas Lidstrom. Matheson hopes that the Oilers will draft Adam Larsson for good reason:
The Oilers really need Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson. The 18-year-old, six-foot-three, 210-pounder plays for Skelleftea AK in the Swedish Elite League. Sweden’s national team coach Par Marts swears Larsson is better than Nick Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings was at the same age. Nobody’s saying Larsson is going to win the Norris Trophy six times, but we’re talking today.
“I believe this is so and I coached Nicklas from when he was 16 to 21 years,” Marts said when he was in Pittsburgh scouting Oilers forwards Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi for his country’s world championship team.
“He’s a terrific, terrific talent,” Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said of Larsson.
Larsson is playing more than 20 minutes a game in the playoffs for Skelleftea. He’s a defenceman, not a centre, not a winger, so he can be counted on to play 30 shifts a game in the NHL. He was in the Swedish Elite League at age 16. Only two other defencemen -longtime NHLer Calle Johansson and 2009 Tampa Bay Lightning pick Victor Hedman -can say that. Larsson has been playing against players who are eight, 10 years older than him for some time, and on the blue-line -a tough position in any league.
“He was in our top pair and on our top power play ... and he was only 16,” said Oilers farmhand Brad Moran, who played with Larsson in Skelleftea last season.
“Physically, he’s there, he’s very mature for his age. Mentally, if he made mistakes, he understood and got better,” said Moran. “He’s a really good kid. He’s pretty quiet, but he loves to play. He’d practice with us in the morning and at night he’d be on a sheet playing shinny. That’s something, as a pro, you don’t see a lot of.”
If ever there was a player who I’d hope the Wings would attempt to trade up to draft, it’s Larsson. It’s not going to happen, of course, but the Wings will have to make some sort of move eventually to find a replacement or three for Lidstrom, and while I’d expect the Wings to both add an elite free agent and cross their fingers about Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl, every once in a great while, a prospect comes around who even raises my eyebrows. Larsson’s that prospect.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.