The New Jersey Devils brass could hardly keep back the smiles while heading to the podium at the Xcel Center. Director of scouting David Conte stepped to the mic and announced the Devils would be taking Swedish defenseman, Adam Larsson with the fourth pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
The Devils were ecstatic to have the player they had hoped would be there still be available. Many “experts” believed Larsson could have been the top pick. Instead, Edmonton, Colorado and Florida choose to select forwards leaving Larsson to fall right into the Devils lap. The 6′ 2″ 197 lb Larsson is rated as the No. 1 European skater by NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, the No. 2 by International Scouting Services, No. 2 by The Hockey News and No. 2 by TSN. To say he is highly regarded is an understatement. The big strong defenseman was considered the best defensemen available in this year’s draft and the most NHL ready from this years solid crop of defenders which also includes Kitchener’s Ryan Murphy and Niagara’s Dougie Hamilton. Larsson will be an instant improvement to the Devils embattled defensive core.
Larsson himself seemed please to be going to New Jersey. He is friends with fellow Swedish Devils, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby and he’d heard a lot of good things about the team and organization from the two. “Im very happy and excited for next year to be going to the New Jersey organization. I’m very proud,” he said.
By all indications the Devils and GM Lou Lamoriello will give him a shot to earn a spot on the team next year. He has the developmental camp during the summer then NHL training camp in the fall. If he impresses expect to see him with the big club come October.
It wasn’t only Larsson and Lamoriello that were over the moon about the pick. Devils fans across the world shrieked with delight, literally. In fact at the moment the pick was announced both my blackberry and ipad crashed from all the reaction. It was a special moment for the fans and the excitement generated from just that one pick may have helped close some of the wounds of last years nightmarish results.
I’ll post the remainder of the Devils picks later this evening.
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