Many people were jumping on the “Adam Larsson is a bust” train before the season started, and I think it’s safe to say that they should hop off. There will always be people that say Larsson is a bust because he doesn’t put up 40 points or isn’t as flashy as other defensemen, but he has grown into a very, very solid defender. It’s weird to think, but Larsson is still only 23 years old. He could still grow as a player and get better. He helped anchor the top d-pairing with Andy Greene, and all things considering, did a great job. This was an important season for Larsson, and let’s take a look at it below.
|5v5 TOI||5v5 Goals||5v5 Assists||5v5 Points||5v5 G60||5v5 A60||5v5 P60||5v5 Pen D||5v5 CF%||5v5 CF% Rel||5v5 SH%||5v5 ZSO% Rel|
|5v4 TOI||5v4 Goals||5v4 Assists||5v4 Points||5v4 G60||5v4 A60||5v4 P60||5v4 Pen D||5v4 CF%||5v4 CF% Rel||5v4 SH%||5v4 ZSO% Rel|
|4v5 TOI||4v5 Goals||4v5 Assists||4v5 Points||4v5 G60||4v5 A60||4v5 P60||4v5 Pen D||4v5 CF%||4v5 CF% Rel||4v5 SH%||4v5 ZSO% Rel|
All Situations Numbers
|All TOI||All Goals||All Assists||All Points||All G60||All A60||All P60||All Pen D||All CF%||All CF% Rel||All SH%||All ZSO% Rel|
So we can start with the obvious, Adam Larsson doesn’t see that much power play time. When he does, he starts it in the defensive zone more than most of his teammates. I don’t think Larsson on the power play would be a terrible idea, and I think it’s something Hynes should look at next year. Even if it’s just a small increase, I think Larsson can help produce with the man advantage. Larsson is used way more often on the penalty kill. Only Andy Greene saw more PK time than Larsson this year. He was relied on heavily to be a top pairing defensemen for the Devils this year, and his PK time just shows that.
Larsson’s 5v5 numbers are what I really want to look at. He didn’t put up many points, which is something I’ll look at later. What he did do was face the toughest competition each opposing team had to offer. Considering how often Larsson started in his own zone compared to his teammates, his CF% is pretty great. His CF% Rel is a -2.15%, which is also crazy considering his usage. Larsson fared well against the best competition the NHL has to offer, and that’s really encouraging. His 5v5 numbers next year will be interesting to see.
Some things that weren’t so great for Larsson was his penalty differential and his points total. Larsson took 19 more penalties than he drew, and that’s not something that’s good for one of your top pairing defensemen. The point totals are a different story. Yes, his numbers dropped from last year, where he had 24 points in 64 games, but you have to remember how Larsson is being used. He is seeing a small amount of power play time and is starting his even strength play in defensive situations. Still, 18 points is very low, especially for the Devils. If Larsson could contribute more, I think he’d get some recognition league wide.
Season Grade: B+
I think it’s time the “Larsson is a bust” thought is put to rest. Larsson showed this year that he can be a defenseman that Hynes can rely on in most situations. He hasn’t proved himself on the power play, but that could happen with more time. Larsson helped anchor the Devils best defensive pairing, and it really wasn’t close. I would trust him in any defensive situation more than I would any of the other Devils defensemen except for Andy Greene, and even that’s close for me. This was the biggest season of Larsson’s career, and I hope he can build off of it. I think the B+ is a very fair grade for Larsson. Hopefully next year he plays well enough to bump that grade up.
(Photo courtesy of Andy Marlin/Getty Images)