Jump to content

The Transformation of Adam Larsson


Recommended Posts

I think I've been over this ground before, but I'm going to give a brief synopsis of how I perceive Adam Larsson's career as a Devil has gone - I will consult numbers for this, but they won't really augment my points that much, I don't think.

 

Year 1 (2011-12):  I can't remember who Larsson's first regular D partner was, but stats.hockeyanalysis tells me that Larsson's most common D partner was Bryce Salvador, and that sounds right.  The lineup was something like Tallinder-Fayne, Greene-Volchenkov, Salvador-Larsson.  Larsson struggled mightily on the power play in Year 1 even though he was the main QB - his shot differential was only 31 shots/60 minutes, which is pretty darn low, and the Devils gave up a lot of shorthanded goals.  His issue was chiefly slow decision-making - he wasn't sure what to do with the puck when he got it, and often thought he had more time than he did.  In addition, Larsson liked to hold on to the puck for as long as possible to see if a pass would develop. Compounding this was his slow acceleration - he'd never catch up if he lost the puck.  in short, he wasn't ready for that role and finally when Kurtis Foster arrived he was taken off the power play.  Still, despite skating issues, he was an effective defenseman and produced impressive breakout passes.  He was gaining confidence and playing reasonably well until he was hurt in February - he comes back and is given less ice time and doesn't appear to be making great decisions.  He's a healthy scratch through the first round of the playoffs, but gets in there against Philadelphia and looks quite good.  Then he's taken out against the Rangers and never gets back in.  Still, a good first year all in all - he broke even as a 19 year old NHL rookie, and that's really quite rare.

 

Year 2 (2012-13):  Larsson posts 19 points in 33 AHL games as the lockout eats up the beginning of the NHL season.  Even so, he's left out of the NHL rotation as the Devils go with 8 defensemen - he doesn't get into game action until Game 6.  Nothing really stands out to me about this year at all - he was mostly paired with Andy Greene and really did not look impressive - the breakout passes were there, but the rest of his game wasn't.  He struggled with gap control, he was slow to cover passes by the opposition, and of course he was being beaten wide far too often.  I think this year is when I noticed that Larsson takes a lot of hits in the D zone, more than his share.  

 

Year 3 (2013-14):  Larsson begins the season in the lineup.  He plays the first 2 games and is a -4.  He stays in for another game where he's even and is then a healthy scratch.  I think this is where DeBoer makes his comments about Larsson not being a -2 every game or whatever.  The issue isn't just that he's a -4, it's that he's being beaten wide in the same fashion as he had been last year.  There appeared to be no improvement in his skating.  Gelinas gets called up to the team in October and Larsson is his D partner early on and that D pairing does quite well - they get very well protected zone start wise but they're still doing quite good territorially.  Then Larsson gets hurt, goes down to the minors, and returns briefly at the end of the year.  Everything seems to be status quo.  His territorial numbers for the year look good but they're in a pretty small sample.

 

Year 4 (2014-15):  Larsson doesn't look particularly good in preseason, to my eyes.  He's scratched to begin the season and talks about how it's the most difficult thing that's happened to him in his career so far.  Trade rumors begin to form around the league about him - Garroich writes that piece about Larsson maybe being a trade piece but teams are wary because of his slow decision making.  When he finally gets into the lineup though, things appear different.  His breakout passes aren't as special, but he's no longer holding on to the puck as long - he's using the glass and the boards occasionally.  He's not taking huge hits seemingly every game.  His gap control isn't horrible, he's not getting turned around as often, and he really looks strong on the boards.  In addition, in the offensive zone he's not holding the puck looking for an open stick - the 'deflectable shot' that everyone talked about is gone.  Adam's just getting the puck and ripping it when he has a chance, generally.   It's again a small sample but the numbers are telling an interesting story for Adam this year - he's breaking even despite very difficult assignments.  He broke even in 2012-13 too, except that team was much better than this team - his Corsi Rel is positive this year, way negative that year.  And I haven't talked about his PK work which is generally very strong.

 

We'll see how the offense develops - recent numbers notwithstanding, I don't think he's all of the sudden going to turn into a dynamo there, but he didn't look awful when put on the power play recently, and I think with his speed he'll always be prone to short handed breakaways against if he does play there regularly.  He's still developed into a formidable player right when NJ needs it - because for as good as Larsson and Severson have looked, Merrill and Gelinas have not.  

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Good post. Though to me, it's been less of a 'transformation' and more of the "Trials, tribulations, and possible rise of Adam Larsson."

 

At this point it is really difficult to say that Larsson's development wasn't impeded by DeBoer. And I am not a 'blame Pete' guy. I think Pete just wasn't sure what to do with him, or how to get him to make good decisions and play with more confidence. Some players respond negatively to certain personalities and coaching strategies and Adam clearly didn't respond well to Pete. Pete's motivational style seemed a little passive aggressive and I also think he seemed closed-minded to Larsson's ability to improve. There seems to be a point where Adam was just afraid to do anything. It seems like Stevens has been able to be successful where Pete was not. He has lit a fire under Adam and it's really refreshing to see. Yesterday Adam seemed like a completely different player than just a few months prior; he had a grit and aggressiveness that I hadn't seen before.

Edited by Neb00rs
Link to post
Share on other sites

Good post. Though to me, it's been less of a 'transformation' and more of the "Trials, tribulations, and possible rise of Adam Larsson."

 

At this point it is really difficult to say that Larsson's development wasn't impeded by DeBoer. And I am not a 'blame Pete' guy. I think Pete just wasn't sure what to do with him, or how to get him to make good decisions and play with more confidence. Some players respond negatively to certain personalities and coaching strategies and Adam clearly didn't respond well to Pete. Pete's motivational style seemed a little passive aggressive and I also think he seemed closed-minded to Larsson's ability to improve. There seems to be a point where Adam was just afraid to do anything. It seems like Stevens has been able to be successful where Pete was not. He has lit a fire under Adam and it's really refreshing to see. Yesterday Adam seemed like a completely different player than just a few months prior; he had a grit and aggressiveness that I hadn't seen before.

 

This transformation started before DeBoer left.  I'm not going to say DeBoer helped him, because I don't think that's true, but I'm not sure he was hindered by him as much as people seem to believe.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's somewhat unfair to blame DeBoer for killing Larsson's development, which many do.  Sure, he was jerked in and out of the lineup but he was consistenly getting coned by faster players. This year has been totally different though. Even before PDB got fired, Larsson was playing great all season.  I think Tommy Albelin deserves a lot of credit for having him simplify his game. He has been very decisive in the offensive zone and is shooting a lot more. Lou and Stevens will get credit for giving Larsson top minutes, but I think it was pretty obvious DeBoer was in trouble. Larsson and Greene didn't work out too well in years past.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This transformation started before DeBoer left.  I'm not going to say DeBoer helped him, because I don't think that's true, but I'm not sure he was hindered by him as much as people seem to believe.

 

Yeah, I pretty much agree, as I hope I articulated in my post: Larsson not developing was mostly on Larsson. But I do think Adam is thriving under the new coaches (I don't know if this is true for anyone else) and I think that Pete wasn't the coach to get him to play better. My post was less of a shot at Pete and more of a nod to Stevens. I do however think that Pete had little belief in Larsson's ability and little trust in him, though I have no idea what effect this had on him. Of course, this is somewhat conjectural and only based on what I saw of DeBo through the media.

 

The question for me now is: can he continue to improve and where is his ceiling? 

Edited by Neb00rs
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not going to say DeBoer helped him, because I don't think that's true, but I'm not sure he was hindered by him as much as people seem to believe.

for a 18, 19, 20 year old kid-- isn't "not helping him" pretty close to "hindering him"? Larsson had zero room for error despite the fact that he wasn't even old enough to buy himself a beer.
Link to post
Share on other sites

very good anyalysis of his development, I think you're spot on when you say he held onto the puck way too long.  I think that worked in the minor leagues for him and he brought that to the NHL where he was in for a rude awakening..he got hammered, he also wasnt ready for the speed of the game culminating in the hit by PK which as he said paralysed him for a bit

 

now hes using his size and footprint to his advantage delivering more than taking, he's banging it off the glass quickly (now almost to a fault) and for some reason (the hardest to explain, imo) isnt getting beat by speed.

 

who knows if pete was trying to change his game in this manor and grew frustrated with his work efforts

Link to post
Share on other sites

He's alright, probably a mid pairing defensemen. Takes too long to think about things

 

Yeah, and if we know one thing -- all 22 year old defenseman are perfect, well-rounded and smart defenseman.

 

I'm shocked at how low of a ceiling some people on this forum give Larsson. It makes me ridiculously glad many of you aren't our GM.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, and if we know one thing -- all 22 year old defenseman are perfect, well-rounded and smart defenseman.

 

 

 

That wasn't what worried people.  It was that he appeared to regress, and for a player some touted as the best in his draft, there were major holes in his game. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, and if we know one thing -- all 22 year old defenseman are perfect, well-rounded and smart defenseman.

 

I'm shocked at how low of a ceiling some people on this forum give Larsson. It makes me ridiculously glad many of you aren't our GM.

 

As was debated a lot before, Larsson's errors weren't those of your typical high draft pick - you watch a guy like Jack Johnson and he skates very well and is big and has a great shot.  It's easy to see why he was a #3 overall pick even if his defensive positioning is awful.  Larsson's issues were that his skating wasn't good, his shot release was not good and his gap control wasn't very good either.  In addition to that it seemed like he was taking huge hits every other game.  He could pass the puck really well still even if his decisions in that area weren't perfect, there'd still be the occasional great breakout pass to remind you of his skill.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As was debated a lot before, Larsson's errors weren't those of your typical high draft pick - you watch a guy like Jack Johnson and he skates very well and is big and has a great shot.  It's easy to see why he was a #3 overall pick even if his defensive positioning is awful.  Larsson's issues were that his skating wasn't good, his shot release was not good and his gap control wasn't very good either.  In addition to that it seemed like he was taking huge hits every other game.  He could pass the puck really well still even if his decisions in that area weren't perfect, there'd still be the occasional great breakout pass to remind you of his skill.

 

His skating is pretty decent and not as bad as you make it out to be. The problem with Larsson, like so much in his game this point in his career, is that there hasnt been significant improvement in it. However, with PDB gone and Adam getting big minutes, his confidence should grow and allow greater progression to take place.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's somewhat unfair to blame DeBoer for killing Larsson's development, which many do. Sure, he was jerked in and out of the lineup but he was consistenly getting coned by faster players. This year has been totally different though. Even before PDB got fired, Larsson was playing great all season. I think Tommy Albelin deserves a lot of credit for having him simplify his game. He has been very decisive in the offensive zone and is shooting a lot more. Lou and Stevens will get credit for giving Larsson top minutes, but I think it was pretty obvious DeBoer was in trouble. Larsson and Greene didn't work out too well in years past.

to my eyes two things really hurt Adam more than we realized- the subban hit and Robinson's departure. It seems like he's finally growing back into the game and I agree that it sounds like Abelin went a long way working with him.

I don't know if he'll be top pairing but if you go back and read what was projected for him at the draft it's hard to just dismiss him until you give him every opportunity, I'm glad he's finally showing it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

His skating is pretty decent and not as bad as you make it out to be. The problem with Larsson, like so much in his game this point in his career, is that there hasnt been significant improvement in it. However, with PDB gone and Adam getting big minutes, his confidence should grow and allow greater progression to take place.

 

His turning and his first step are still not good - we just haven't seen that much because he's no longer holding on to the puck at the point and sometimes losing it/having it blocked.  He skates straight ahead reasonably well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, and if we know one thing -- all 22 year old defenseman are perfect, well-rounded and smart defenseman.

I'm shocked at how low of a ceiling some people on this forum give Larsson. It makes me ridiculously glad many of you aren't our GM.

Larsson can still be a good player for a long time. I don't think he's ever going to be as great as player as we all hoped for picking #4 overall.

There are deficiencies in his game that have not improved and might never improve.

Perception is part of the problem. There are two states of mind when talking about Larsson. People who have predilections towards Larsson because of his draft position and wanting him to live up to that potential. On the other hand, there are a group of people very hard on him - unfairly - because they were expecting someone elite to walk through the door. I like to think of myself as someone in the middle. As is, I think he is a good player. Ideally a #3-4 defensemen. I don't think he's going to morph into anything much better than he is now, but time will tell.

Edited by Devils Pride 26
Link to post
Share on other sites

He's mentioned confidence and not worrying about mistakes. 

 

Right. I mean, it is pretty clear from his quotes that Adam is having a better time with PDB gone.

 

for a 18, 19, 20 year old kid-- isn't "not helping him" pretty close to "hindering him"? Larsson had zero room for error despite the fact that he wasn't even old enough to buy himself a beer.

 

Yeah, this is pretty much what I am saying. DeBo just didn't have the 'it' factor to light that fire under Adam, and as a coach that means something. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Larsson can still be a good player for a long time. I don't think he's ever going to be as great as player as we all hoped for picking #4 overall.

There are deficiencies in his game that have not improved and might never improve.

Perception is part of the problem. There are two states of mind when talking about Larsson. People who have predilections towards Larsson because of his draft position and wanting him to live up to that potential. On the other hand, there are a group of people very hard on him - unfairly - because they were expecting someone elite to walk through the door. I like to think of myself as someone in the middle. As is, I think he is a good player. Ideally a #3-4 defensemen. I don't think he's going to morph into anything much better than he is now, but time will tell.

 

This almost sounds like it's working off information from 2 months ago.  No, Larsson isn't going to become an elite, both ends of the rink defender, PP/PK elite player, but a ton of D drafted high don't become that.  A ton of forwards drafted high don't become that for forwards either.  Larsson's shots are up - considerably.  He's getting nearly 5 shots/60 minutes at ES, instead of the slightly less than 3 he was getting.  And that's with lots of D zone starts.  It's not just his shots on goal, either - he's attempting more shots on goal per 60 minutes as well.  I think it's entirely possible that Larsson will become a near-elite shot suppressor with some offensive ability (if he isn't already) - a top-pairing guy who puts up 20-30 points a year and plays very solid defense, especially on the PK. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

This almost sounds like it's working off information from 2 months ago. No, Larsson isn't going to become an elite, both ends of the rink defender, PP/PK elite player, but a ton of D drafted high don't become that. A ton of forwards drafted high don't become that for forwards either. Larsson's shots are up - considerably. He's getting nearly 5 shots/60 minutes at ES, instead of the slightly less than 3 he was getting. And that's with lots of D zone starts. It's not just his shots on goal, either - he's attempting more shots on goal per 60 minutes as well. I think it's entirely possible that Larsson will become a near-elite shot suppressor with some offensive ability (if he isn't already) - a top-pairing guy who puts up 20-30 points a year and plays very solid defense, especially on the PK.

Might make sense, I haven't seen a ton of games lately. In the occasions I have seen, he still looks like he's thinking too much in the defensive zone. To take a stab at the reason for the increased shot rate, I would speculate Stevens has tried to get him to simplify his game by shooting more. Not a bad idea, but this takes away his biggest strength, his passing. From what I've seen, he still doesn't look confident with the puck.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I see Larsson as maybe not being that elite, all around top pairing defenseman we'd all hoped he'd be when we drafted him 4th overall, but I think he'll still become a very good defenseman. I see him as becoming a better Marc Staal. A mobile defensive defenseman that has decent offensive talent that will allow him to put up at least 20 points each season, but not the kind of talent to put up the 40-50 point seasons you need to do in order to be considered a true #1 defenseman.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Living in Florida, I've seen next to nothing of him this season, but his skating has always been an odd case. You'd almost think he was a converted forward. Skates perfectly fine on the attack, but he can't turn and get his backwards stride going. You'd think this is something a skating specialist could work on.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I see Larsson as maybe not being that elite, all around top pairing defenseman we'd all hoped he'd be when we drafted him 4th overall, but I think he'll still become a very good defenseman. I see him as becoming a better Marc Staal. A mobile defensive defenseman that has decent offensive talent that will allow him to put up at least 20 points each season, but not the kind of talent to put up the 40-50 point seasons you need to do in order to be considered a true #1 defenseman.

 

I agree and thats part of the reason that if we could get a scorer for him i wouldnt mind flipping that talent, it might be unfair to Larsson but i'd like to get more out of a 4th overall pick than what he's projecting to bring us.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree and thats part of the reason that if we could get a scorer for him i wouldnt mind flipping that talent, it might be unfair to Larsson but i'd like to get more out of a 4th overall pick than what he's projecting to bring us.

 

That is a sunk cost at this point.  In addition I don't know why everyone thinks this team has depth on defense.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.