A coaching change, combined with injuries to defensemen Bryce Salvador and Damon Severson, have equaled an opportunity for 22-year-old Devils blue-liner Adam Larsson.
Larsson, the fourth overall draft pick in 2011, has played nine games in January and logged at least 20 minutes in each of them. Last night in a 2-1 shootout win over the Leafs, he played 24:59 and scored the game-tying goal.
GM Lou Lamoriello has been behind the bench, along with Scott Stevens and Adam Oates, since head coach Pete DeBoer was fired on Dec. 26.
“I think it’s all confidence,” said Lamoriello of Larsson, per NHL.com.
“You can’t put added pressure on him and you have to learn from mistakes and that’s what he is going through, like any young player. Especially a defenseman, they don’t come into their own until they are 24, 25, 26 years old.”
Remember that the Devils are the oldest team in the league, so it’s especially important that their young players develop.
“[The coaching staff] trusts me and I think that’s all I needed,” Larsson said. “I needed guys that showed they trusted me, and then it’s up to yourself if you want to be out there.”