The day started off as any ordinary day would. I headed out to grab a quick lunch with a friend, deciding on a rather cleverly-named restaurant called Hurry Curry. I ordered the Tokyo Curry and it was delicious, morsels of beef immersed in a perfectly balanced, rich curry sauce over hot, steaming rice. You can read my Yelp review here.
I looked at my phone after lunch and after seeing the first notification, let out a loud expletive, completely shocked at the buffoonery behind such a trade. Subban for Weber? "What a bunch of fools they have in Montreal," I chuckled to myself as I walked back to the office. "I’m so glad this type of fleecing doesn’t happen to us because a trade like this would make me want to jump head-first into a sidewalk of concrete."
And just a few moments later, as I opened up Twitter, I realized the foolishness had spread to Edmonton, hard, and my previous contemplation about sidewalks suddenly became a viable coping method for the news I was now struggling to grapple with. The next few hours were a blur, as I spent many moments sitting blankly and looking straight ahead with my mouth half agape for what seemed like really long periods of time. I probably looked incredibly stupid and received concerned looks from a few passing strangers.
But guys, listen, I am a psychology major. And before you make fun of me for having the most useless degree ever, know that it comes in quite handy in coping with traumatic situations like this.
After a full night, I have managed to construct an alternative rendition of reality that is much more soothing to my sanity, and I would like to offer this to my fellow Oilers fans as some ointment for the ferocious burn you surely felt yesterday. I think denial is a fair price to pay for sanity. Don’t you think so?
This Is What Actually Happened
Yesterday was an absolutely fantastic day for the Oilers, as the team finally acquired the future first-pairing defenseman they have long been waiting for. The biggest and only emotional shock of the day occurred when some Oilers fans heard that "the Oilers have acquired Larsson" and assumed it was Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes, but then found out it was actually a defenseman named Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils. The most common reaction upon hearing that name was probably "Who is this human? I vaguely associate his name with Nugent-Hopkins' draft year."
But hey, everything is okay because we picked him up for nothing more than a pinecone. That's right, a one for one deal, Larsson for pinecone. Yes, it was a very nice pinecone, and we have loved this pinecone for a long time, but it’s a tough market and that is the price to pay to bolster the blue line.
Some fans are hollering on social media about the loss of a player named "Taylor Hall." I, for one, have never heard of this player before. Soon, you will be able to convince yourself that you, too, are unfamiliar with the concept of this "Taylor Hall" and he has never existed as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. In your mind, today the Oilers acquired a potential top-pairing defenseman for a pinecone and that is all that happened. KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THIS.
Maybe the pinecone was an overpay for Adam Larsson, but just like the idiom about there being no use crying over spilt milk, there is nothing to be gained in crying over a pinecone that has been thrown, javelin-style, to the rather unsightly state of New Jersey. I have, unfortunately, been to Newark, and I only wish the pinecone’s destination was better than a place that quite literally has a foul odor hit you in the face as soon as you step out of the airport.
What truly healed me last night was some ferocious internet
stalking research on this Adam Larsson person. And then it hit me that Adam Larsson is an Edmonton Oiler. I think many Oilers fans know this, but they are so understandably fixated on losing the pinecone that they haven’t truly put enough weight on appreciating and understanding what we are receiving versus what we are giving away. It won’t make what we gave away any less stellar, but it might help heal the damage done to your soul yesterday.
So this post is about Adam Larsson, newest member of the Edmonton Oilers. Picture Adam Larsson in an Oilers jersey. Picture Adam Larsson shutting down top-line wingers, impudently thinking they have the slightest chance at getting past the big Swede on the blueline. Picture Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom on the top pairing, the Swedish dream team, trading Swedish witticisms with each another between whistles and blasting Swedish one-timers on the power play. How Swede it is.
Yesterday hurt like crazy, but sometimes you need to close your eyes, forget about what you lost, even if for a moment, and remember what you have on hand. Say hello to Adam Larsson.
Who is Adam Larsson?
Nils Erik Adam Larsson, a man cool enough to have three first names and chose the third one to be his main one because he can and he did, was born in the hockey-crazy city of Skelleftea on November 12, 1992. If this sounds familiar, it’s because that’s where recent Oilers draft pick Filip Berglund (91st overall) is from. Bam, instant mentor. Larsson was drafted fourth overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2011 Entry Draft, the first defenseman and European-trained player to be picked in that year’s draft.
In Larsson, the Oilers are getting a young, 6’3 shutdown defenseman who eats up big-time minutes, averaging upwards of 22 minutes in the 2015-16 season, and trending upwards. From everything I’ve read, he seems to be the complete package, with exceptional poise, skating, point shot, and defensive awareness. I know we hate plus-minus stats but Larsson’s +15 leads the Devils and bests Brandon Davidson’s team-leading +7 by a mile, despite the Devils being dead last in the NHL for Goals Per Game last season. That +15 rating also beats his partner on the Devils' top pairing last season, Andy Greene (+7), by the same margin, suggesting he may have been the better half of that duo.
Additionally, he has offensive potential that has not been fully explored yet; Larsson received all of 11 minutes of power play time on the Devils last year—I usually take longer than that to get up in the morning. Larsson still tallied three goals and 15 assists last season, despite also getting the lowest offensive zone starts on his team (30.5%), and finished with one of the best primary assists/60 rates in the league. His shot is hard and accurate-- imagine what he could do on a power play unit with McDavid.
He’s also affordable, having just signed a six-year extension with the Devils last year at US$25,000,000, the annual $4,167,000 cap hit nearly identical (a $333 difference, or the price of an Xbox One + NHL 16) to the deal Oscar Klefbom got with the Oilers at the start of last season (seven years, $29,169,000). Here's a nice piece from All About the Jersey on Larsson's emergence last season.
In addition to the loss of a pinecone, another big reason the trade seemed extremely underwhelming is because Larsson played in the shadowy cave of oblivion that is Newark, NJ. I didn’t realize how little I paid attention to the Devils until that team name surfaced in today’s trade and I was reminded of their existence again. While you may expect Devils fans and media to be throwing money in the air and cackling hysterically at their good fortune, many are actually very sad to see Larsson go and speak very highly of him.
At the same time people that don't see how good Adam Larsson is on daily basis, can't appreciate him like we did! Edmonton got a real good d— Ken Daneyko (@KenDaneykoMSG) June 29, 2016
This Tweet from Ken Daneyko sums up a lot of the sentiment I’ve seen from Devils fans, many of whom see Larsson as an absolute beast, a legit future #1 defenseman who had a breakthrough season last season and is set to do even more next season. The sentiment seemed similar to what one would see if the Oilers traded Oscar Klefbom to another team for an elite winger-- happy with the return, but still sad to give up a solid piece of their team with a lot of potential.
Here’s your scouting report via HockeysFuture.com;
Upon first glance at his numbers, one might not be overly impressed. But there is much more to Larsson’s game than numbers. He is a workhorse, capable of logging major minutes in all situations. He has played with uncommon poise for a player of his age in a league against men in the Swedish Elite League the past two years. Simply put, there aren’t very many holes in Larsson’s game. He is the complete package, capable of taking over a game with his size, skating and elite two-way skills. He’s likely not going to ever contribute elite offensive numbers from the backend, but he is more than capable of rushing the puck end-to-end, making great stretch passes with his superb vision and unleashing a hard and accurate point shot.
Think of Red Wings great Nicklas Lidstrom, who just happens to be the guy that Larsson models his game after, when projecting what Larsson has the potential to become in the not-too-distant future.
If that wasn’t enough, here are some more non-hockey reasons to love Adam Larsson.
1. He has nice hair
Look at it. Respect the flow. Love the flow. The Oilers are now 4.25% improved in hair quality. Those are substantial gains right there.
2. He is Kygo*
I sent over a picture of Larsson to my roommate when the trade happened and she immediately responded with, "Your team got Kygo?!?"
Fans, did you know that with this trade, the Oilers are receiving not only a potential number-one defenseman by day, but also an MTV award-winning DJ and producer by night? He goes by Kygo when he’s mixing sick beats at clubs, and with his tropical grooves, he wants to tell you that even though the other player in the trade "Stole the Show," he’s "Here for You" and will "Stay."
*This is not actually true
3. He bleeds and sweats
Damn, son. He may look like a gentle Swedish fella, but Adam Larsson isn’t afraid to get in a fight and got this cut to the eyebrow during a scrap when he was 17 years old in the Swedish League. Most people don’t even want to look at pictures of their 17-year old selves again, but Larsson looked like a straight-up Scandinavian thug you do not want to mess with. That is not an easy look to pull off.
You know how people always talk about the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to win championships? Larsson definitely bled during this fight, I’m sure he perspires to a certain degree when he plays hockey, and mixed with the pools of tears shed by Oilers fans today, the Cup is pretty much ours.
4. He pulls off plaid like a pro
Don’t tell me that plaid doesn't get you a little bit. Embrace the tingle in your heart. You want to love him. Come on.
I know Oilers fans are devastated, and rightfully so. Larsson’s upside doesn’t excuse the price we paid, and it’s perfectly fine if this post didn’t make you feel any better, and you still want to complain about how Chiarelli should be publically flogged under a spotlight on the opening day of Rogers Arena. You’ll find your own way to cope with it, even if it’s straight-up anger, but the Pinecone Method is working for me and the more I learn about this kid, the more he makes me look forward to seeing him locks flow when he plays in an Oilers uniform. It may have been A Damn Larceny for the New Jersey Devils yesterday, but it’s Adam Larsson who’s playing for the Edmonton Oilers next season. Let this fact (and also potentially this and this) reduce your tear sheddage a little as you forage wistfully for pinecones in the forest later.