My first reaction when I saw Adam Larsson’s name on our prospect ranking list was “How the hell is he still under 25?” One quick google, and I realized it was true. The big, bearded blueliner is the same age as Nuge. Even though the former dishes out crosschecks like he was raised in the original six era, while the latter is still the bud of jokes involving chocolate milk and getting home before bedtime.
The C&B staff was pretty united on Larsson’s number six ranking, that fittingly matches his jersey number. Patrick had him at five, Jeff had him at seven, and everyone else agreed that six was the perfect ranking.
Larsson is a top pairing defenseman on the Oilers, which is pretty impressive for a 24-year old, so why isn’t he higher?
The answer to that, for me at least, is a combination of strong competition and limited upside. The Oilers’ best players, for the most part are their young guys. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that three of the five players who ranked ahead of Larsson played as high as he did in the lineup last season, and four of the five have been a mainstay on either a first line or a top defensive pairing at some point in their career. I bet most of you can already guess who they are.
The reason Larsson ranks at the bottom of the established top-of-the-lineup young guys is his lack of offensive upside. I think all of the voters appreciate the value he brings to the defensive side of the game, but he’s limited offensively, and he’s yet to show any indication that he will develop into a primary puck-mover or a power play quarterback. That’s fine. He is who he is. But if he were ever to surpass the guys ahead of him on this list, it would be more due to their inability to reach expectations, rather than his ability to develop.
Adam Larsson probably is the same player right now as he will be until his body finally decides to break down: a steady, reliable, and nasty defender.