I have seen Adam Larsson play for the New Jersey Devils, but could not begin to attempt a useful description of him. I am blessed with a plethora of smart people in a wide network of hockey people and one of them is Todd Cordell. I asked the questions, answers below belong to Todd.
- Larsson plays the tough minutes based on the published numbers. Is he effective in that role? Yes absolutely. His numbers weren’t very good in terms of CF% but that was as much a team issue as it was with him. Of the four Devils’ blue liners to play more than 1,000 minutes at 5 v 5 last season none allowed fewer shot attempts against per 60 minutes than Larsson despite playing heavy defensive minutes against the league’s top players. The Devils’ shot suppression numbers are always good but his were the best of the bunch. That’s impressive given he started 20% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
- Offensively, he looks pedestrian, but it is also true that he does not receive PP time. Is he an effective puck mover? Larsson is actually a very underrated puck mover. For the most part his outlets are accurate and over the last two seasons he is tied with Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Kris Letang, Aaron Ekblad and Matt Niskanen with .31 primary assists per 60 minutes of 5 v 5. With better forwards and a more offensive system to work with I expect he’ll be able to put up some points.
- Is he a player—in your opinion—who would be better suited as a second pairing option? I don’t know that I’d say that. As mentioned his shot suppression numbers have been fantastic despite playing in a division where he goes up against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Claude Giroux and co. more than any other players. He can handle tough competition, he can handle big minutes and his offensive game is probably better than he’s given credit for. Maybe softer minutes would allow the offense to shine through a little more but I don’t think he is playing over his head.
- Does this player cover the $4.2M bet in your opinion? Absolutely. Top-4 defensemen are tough to get so any time you can lock one in – especially at a young age – you do it. He played almost 23 minutes per game last season and, as I mentioned, he is probably a better puck mover than he is given credit for. $4.2M per is good value for Larsson in my opinion.