“He’s much better now than Lidstrom was at the same age,” Tommy Boustedt, the Swedish hockey federation’s national director of development
HAPPY CANADA DAY to everyone back home!!
The title of today’s post is indeed facetious but bear with me on this one for the time being.
- Player 1 – Elite hockey IQ, skilled, great first pass, accurate shot, calm, efficient in defensive zone, elite vision, not physical
- Player 2 – Poised with the puck, accurate point shot, minute muncher, excellent puck handler, outstanding hockey sense, great outlet passer, high-end recoverability
One of the players above is Adam Larsson and one of them is Niklas Lidstrom. The reports were taken from various sources online. Can you pick out which player is which?
When Adam Larsson was being scouted for the 2011 draft, a draft in which Larsson battled Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jonathan Huberdeau for 1st overall, a lot of reports had him being compared to Red Wings great Niklas Lidstrom.
If you watch him, he’s a bit bigger than Lidstrom was during his playing days but the way that Larsson moves his body, skates, shoots, passes, and defends; you could definitely see some Lidstrom in his game.
I’m not saying Adam Larsson IS the next Niklas Lidstrom at all but I do see similarities in their playing style and it wasn’t until Lidstrom was in his early 30’s as to when he started racking up all of those Norris trophy awards.
Now we know that Lidstrom entered the NHL at age 20. So he got the privilege of spending two more years in the Swedish league before joining the Detroit Red Wings in 1991 where he racked up 60 points in 80 games.
Adam Larsson started playing regularly in the Swedish professional league as a 16 year old and is one of only a handful of players that include Tampa Bay Lightning defender Victor Hedman to ever do so. The year after being drafted Larsson made the jump to the NHL as an 18 year old.
- “I think Adam Larsson plays a safer game. I certainly think he has the same potential as Hedman. He’s every bit as good with the puck and he might be a touch tougher. Hedman is a little bigger, but they’re both unbelievably good skaters. I think I would take Larsson over Hedman if I could, based on what I’ve seen the last three years.” (Source)
- “He’s more stick-handling and can move the puck quick. That’s the big thing, and he can hit, too. He’s a strong guy and he’s big. I think he has a great future (in North America).” (Source)
- “He’s really smart with the puck, and tough. He won’t back down from anything and even fought a 30-year-old in Swedish league. He just has this glow in his eyes … you know he’s going to be a great player.” – Robin Lehner (Source)
I think some people are still reeling from the Taylor Hall move and I get it, Hall was one of the best wingers in the game and a lot of media types are baffled by this deal. Rumours going around that other GMs were happy to give more including Garth Snow from the Islanders but Peter Chiarelli settled on Adam Larsson.
My question is if Hall is THAT good, why was he so shit on the powerplay and why couldn’t he beat anybody out for Team Canada? For a player of such elite offensive prowess to be that atrocious on the powerplay is mind-numbing to me.
I sort of have a sneaking feeling that Chiarelli dealt Hall to the Devils because that’s the place where he might not be able to put up the numbers that would make the Oilers GM worse than he already does. A place where Hall might not put up Tyler Seguin numbers… That’s my own theory though.
That being said, I am f*cking stoked to see what Adam Larsson can do. If you’re not a believer, listen to hour 1 of Lowetide from yesterday here and pay close attention to what Darcy McLeod (@woodguy55) says about him. The conversation about Larsson starts at (25:56) and I’ll include some quotes below.
- “Where he actually shines is in scoring chance suppression and shots against suppression”
- “When he’s (Larsson) on the ice his team gets less shots for but he’s so good at the other ones (go here to see McLeod’s post on right-handed defensemen), when you look at the goals for when he’s on he kills it. When you look at how many of the shots against that come from the home plate area, he kills it. When you look at how he does compared for the shot attempts against to the rest of his team, he kills it and he does that playing first pair which is really good with the only caveat being how much of that is Greene (Andy)?
There are more quotes I want to include here but just to interject for a moment. The underlined portion above is really important to me because how many times in the last decade have we seen scoring chances against the Oilers come from within the home plate area (the slot but widened out to the faceoff dots) because a defenseman has been caught puck watching?
- “He’s already a first-pairing guy. It’s not a guess, it’s not a question. Chiarelli wasn’t blowing sunshine up our butts.”
- “This isn’t the Reinhart trade all over again. This guy is the goods in terms of being able to play first-pairing defence.”
- “Part of being a good defender is keeping the puck away from the scoring areas and where Larsson really excels.”
I think it’s important to take what McLeod has to say here seriously because it’s too easy to write him off before he’s played a game for the Oilers. Edmonton has never had a right-shooting defenseman of this ilk before, so Adam Larsson, while he may never be the next right-handed Niklas Lidstrom, Ray Bourque, or Victor Hedman; he might just be the next right-shooting Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Roman Hamrlik, or Teppo Numminen (I know, Teppo’s a righty).
*It’s kinda irritating how many great players are lefties.*
Let’s see what he can do when he’s passing the puck to Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Let’s see how he does on the PP with a real group of magician and snipers in front of him before we right him off.