Whether it's because the Devils are a better team, the fact remains that Gudbranson has three straight years in the NHL without being sent down to the AHL. He hasn't been that great and hasn't played an 82 game season (not sure if it was because he was a healthy scratch or injuries), but really neither has Larsson, and it's probably not because DeBoer was being unfair with him.
The Panthers have picked in the top two the last two years. They're obviously not a very good team and let their young kids play. Relative to the rest of the Panther defense, Gudbranson gets killed out there.
Larsson was better than the average NJ dman possession wise last year. The puck goes the right way when he's on the ice. NJ is obviously trying to win now and I think even you can admit he was playing some of his best hockey before he got hurt in SJ. It's not his fault Larsson and Gelinas played well in his absence. He is obviously too good for the AHL