As a consistent contender for two decades (more or less), the New Jersey Devils rarely enjoy the luxury of drafting a high first-round pick. That fact only makes Adam Larsson’s relatively modest development that much more glaring to less patient types.
After all, it’s easy to forget that the fourth overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft is still just 21 (he turns 22 on Nov. 12). As Devils blog In Lou We Trust states, it’s probably hasty to throw around the term “bust.”
The Devils should absolutely not trade Adam Larsson. I’ve seen among the fanbase a willingness to part with Larsson in fictitious trade proposals far too easily, and I feel this is merely because there is a perception that he’s either some kind of bust, or the Devils don’t need him anymore because of the other prospects in the system. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The emergence of [Eric] Gelinas and [Jon] Merrill should have no impact on the long term plans for Adam Larsson. Perhaps Devils fans have expected too much too soon out of such a young player, brand new to North American hockey. Perhaps Larsson himself added to those expectations through his jump right into the NHL.
Larsson is currently on a one-year, $900K “prove it” contract, although New Jersey could very well stick with him even if he suffers from another rocky season. Defensemen commonly take longer to develop than forwards – Justin Schultz thinks it’s too early to talk about his Norris hopes at 24, for instance – but with 128 regular season and five postseason games under his belt, there’s at least a decent sample of Larsson’s NHL work.
So, with that, here’s the question: how much better will Larsson get?
To jazz things up, let’s ponder his potential in the 2014-15 season as well as what kind of ceiling he has overall.
Again, note that this second poll ponders what you’d expect from his peak years; AHL-NHL split remains a choice just for consistency (and people who are really down on Larsson).