It might seem strange to say that Adam Larsson “dropped” to the New Jersey Devils as the fourth pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but there were some who felt that way. Considering the (never fair) Nicklas Lidstrom comparisons some are drawing to Larsson, the consensus is that the Swedish defenseman will be the future of a Devils defense that has been decimated by free agent defections and retirement.
The Devils kicked off their prospect camps today, with Larsson getting his first spin on the ice with the organization. The Swedish defenseman received some one-on-one time with Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens and reportedly did pretty well in that first practice, although Mike Morreale did report that he experienced the occasional hiccup.
That being said, Larsson told NHL.com that he felt good about his first run and that he hopes to play at the NHL-level with the Devils next season. At the same time, Larsson also indicated that he would be flexible about his plans if that doesn’t work out. He also discussed contract negotiations with the Devils, although he didn’t get too detailed in that area.
Larsson and his agent, Claes Elefalk, have yet to set the parameters of an entry-level deal with Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello, but it’s in the works.
“We’re working on it and hopefully we can get something done,” Larsson said. “Of course, I want to start in the NHL, but I would play in the American Hockey League if that’s where they wanted me to go. That would be great, too … it wouldn’t bother me at all. If I go, I’ll go and then I can play everywhere.”
Larsson is under contract for one more season with Skelleftea in Sweden’s Elite League; while that wouldn’t keep him from beginning what is sure to be a prosperous NHL career this season, it’s possible he would return there to improve his overall game. Elefalk wouldn’t be surprised if that happened.
“I feel I’m ready, but am still learning every day,” he said of being ready for the NHL. “I think if I do decide to play in North America, I want to feel very prepared for it. I’ll talk to Lou and see what his plan is for me, but of course I want to (play in the NHL) … that’s my goal. If I get the chance, I will take it.”
Either way, the Devils probably feel a lot better about the future of their defense today than they did at the end of the 2010-11 regular season. We’ll see if Larsson will be part of the 11-12 version soon enough.