The 2013 season was nothing short of a disaster for the New Jersey Devils. They had a solid start to the season, but eventually fell apart, due to a combination of injury and offensive inefficiency. As they head into what is sure to be a busy offseason, where are the positives for this club?
One of those positives is Adam Larsson. He missed 11 games during the regular season, after playing in 65 last season, but has shown flashes of becoming the defenseman that the Devils hoped they were getting when they selected him fourth overall prior to last year. It’s just a matter of getting the right opportunity.
In the long-term, Larsson projects as a top pairing defenseman for this club, capable of logging major minutes and providing consistent play at both ends of the ice. He may not be a perennial Norris Trophy finalist, but he should be a mainstay for this lineup for a long time.
It’s just a matter of that opportunity. He was fourth on the team in minutes among defensemen last season, but fell way down on the depth chart when it came to special teams. That was particularly noticeable on the power play, where he averaged just nine seconds for the entire year.
As of right now, the Devils aren’t a team that is in position to make another run at the Stanley Cup Finals anytime soon. They’re in something of a rebuild right now. Which is why it’s time to hand bigger minutes to Larsson and get him into that top pairing role he’s expected to assume in New Jersey for the next decade plus.
Get him minutes on the power play. Cut Marek Zidlicky loose to get him more minutes at even strength and with the man advantage. This is a kid with elite potential as a two-way defenseman and he needs to be playing as such.