Defenseman Adam Larsson was picked by many experts to have a breakout season in 2013-14. That was far from what happened. After only missing 28 games in his first two seasons, Larsson only played in 26 this year. That may have been the biggest surprise of the Devils’ season.
Larsson was dealing with a lower-body injury after leaving the November 23 game early. He did not see the ice again in an NHL uniform until March 31. Some of that time was spent in the AHL, where he was relegated to after Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas played so well in his absence. For the second season, in a row the Devils had too many good defensemen, and Larsson ended up being the odd man out.
His season started off really rough, as he posted a -4 in the first month. It seemed like the expectations were getting to him for the first time in his career. He made terrible mental mistakes, including giving up multiple breakaway chances. Some of the things that people were commending him for in his first two years were starting to regress. There were games where he was a liability on the ice.
The good news for the Devils is that it looked like he grew up in the minors. He found that comeback speed that made him the No. 4 overall pick at 18 years old. He is still only 21 years old. His upside is astronomical. The team needs to re-sign him despite his struggles this season.
This is just looking at this season, however. He was great while he played in the minors. He posted 19 points over 33 games. He showed a newly-minted part of his game. The offensive side never really showed while he was in the NHL. He seemed like he was super focused on perfecting the defensive side. When he was in the minors, he was able to experiment. It seemed to have gone really well.
Despite his success with the Albany Devils, the grade is on how Larsson did with the pro team. He was not very good, especially according to expectations. This was supposed to be his breakout year, and it was a year that ended with too many holes. Next year is a new start.
Season Grade: C-