The New Jersey Devils have been stacked on defense this season, and they have more than enough capable players who could play every day in the NHL. When you have rookies like Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill step up for your team, there are going to be players who are left out, and this season, that was Adam Larsson.
Larsson was having a really rough start to his season when the Devils couldn’t get out of the blocks. He started off the season with a -4, but progressed much better once he was paired with Gelinas upon his arrival. He had zero points the entire first month of the season, and he went down with an injury before the Nov. 25 game. He went on injured reserve not long after that with a knee injury and hasn’t been a part of the team since. When he returned from the injury, he was sent down to the AHL because of the logjam of defenseman that coach Peter DeBoer had to deal with already.
With all that, Larsson is the most important re-signing of the Devils’ offseason. The biggest decisions that Lou Lamoriello has to make involve his restricted free agents. The only unrestricted free agents are Jaromir Jagr, who at 42 years old, will make his own decisions in regards to his career, Marek Zidlicky, who has very little chance to be on this team next season, Martin Brodeur, who is in the same position as Jagr, and the entire fourth line, which will be an interesting case. The restricted free agents include Gelinas, Riley Boychuk and Keith Kinkaid among Larsson.
None of those players are former fourth overall picks. The Devils aren’t used to picking that high in the draft, so when they do, they can’t just let them go to another team. Larsson showed signs of being great the past two seasons, and many of the big name analysts picked him to be a breakout star this year. However, it seems as if that pressure really got to him. He needs to stop pressing to try to be great 24/7 and just play his game; more importantly, he needs to re-sign with the Devils.
You don’t let go of a talent of Larsson’s stature when they are 21 years old. If they don’t want to commit like you did to Adam Henrique, I can understand that, but they still have to reward him for what he has done for them so far; he came right from being drafted to playing in the NHL without a hitch. He needs to get locked up for at least four years.
Despite hating being in the AHL, Larsson says he doesn’t want to be anywhere except on the Devils. They need to take advantage of that and give him an extension before anyone else can make a bid on him.