Larsson hits the ice at 2011 rookie camp
Not a bad way for him to break into his first Devils rookie camp, which opened Monday at AmeriHealth Pavilion. The top-ranked European skater at this year’s Entry Draft, the Devils selected Larsson fourth overall on June 24.
“It’s fun,” Larsson said after a long afternoon at the rink. “I like to play on the small ice and I’ve been looking forward to this for many weeks.”
It was a busy day for the young Swede, who wore No. 36 and took part in the first morning session. That was followed by an afternoon scrimmage and a power-skating class.
Larsson might be more familiar with the bigger ice surfaces in Europe, but he’s also comfortable on North American rinks thanks to his appearances in the World Juniors.
“Maybe the intensity’s a little more over here,” Larsson said. “The strength of the players and everything is pretty much the same.”
He arrived in the tri-state area on Saturday and joined Swedish teammates Jacob Josefson and Alex Urbom for a trip into New York City on Sunday.
Larsson’s Big Apple recap was brief: “It was a great time.”
Josefson elaborated a bit more.
“We saw Times Square, Central Park and went down to SoHo a little bit,” he said. “I think he’ll like it here.”
Larsson admits that he’s still working on his English, though Josefson says the big blueliner – 6-3, 210 lbs. – isn’t a chatterbox in his native tongue, either.
“He’s pretty quiet in Swedish, too, but when you get to know him, he talks a lot,” Josefson noted. “He’s from up north, and all the guys from up north are pretty quiet in Sweden.”
|Larsson during Monday's scrimmage
PHOTO: New Jersey Devils
“Great,” Josefson said. “He said he hadn’t skated in a while, but it looks like he’s been skating the whole summer. I think he did good.”
Josefson has been Larsson's teammate in international play, and was excited to find out Larsson had been drafted by the Devils. He followed the first round live on his cell phone.
“Real happy," he said. "Another guy that talks my language – it’s perfect."
Larsson represents the latest addition to a growing core of Swedish players that includes Mattias Tedenby, who was unable to attend this year’s camp due to an issue with his visa. But being one of several Swedes in the dressing room should go a long way toward making Larsson feel at home in New Jersey.
“I think they will help me a lot this year,” Larsson said. “Jacob has also told me everything he knows, so of course they will help me.”
His goal is to make the NHL club this season.
"Of course, I want to do that," he said. "That’s my goal in my career. If I get the chance, I will take it."
The Devils’ coaching staff will be looking to help him achieve that. Stevens, currently a special assignment coach, spoke to Larsson at the end of the morning session to offer some feedback.
“He just gave me a few tips,” Larsson said. “Of course I listened to him, every single word he said. I look up to him.”
So what exactly did Stevens say?
“I don’t remember,” Larsson admitted, jet lagged and tired, but eager and excited to be in New Jersey.
• Larsson mentioned that he’s breaking in new skates this week. Overall, he expects to continue to improve over the next few days.
“I know what I need to improve, but it’s hard to say, it’s the first day,” he said. “Hopefully I will feel better at the end of the week.”
The Devils' coaching staff led the prospects through their on-ice drills. Last year's assistants Larry Robinson and Adam Oates are on hand, as are goaltending coaches Jacques Caron and Chris Terreri, and special assignment coach Scott Stevens. The list includes Albany (AHL) coach Rick Kowalsky, and Kevin Dean, who coached Trenton (ECHL) last season. Also helping out on the ice is Sergei Brylin, who was a member of all three Devils championships.
The first skate began at 9:15 a.m.:
Forwards: Scott Arnold (LW), JS Berube (LW), Brian Haczyk (RW), Adam Henrique (C), Jacob Josefson (C), Peter McMullen (LW), Kory Nagy (C), Thomas Nesbitt (RW), Nick Palmieri (RW), Derek Rodwell (LW), David Wohlberg (C)
Defense: Brandon Burlon, Curtis Gedig, Seth Helgeson, Adam Larsson, Reece Scarlett, Joe Sova, Harry Young
Goaltenders: Maxime Clermont, Scott Wedgewood
The second session included 21 skaters:
Forwards: Justin Barnett (LW), Reid Boucher (LW), Blake Coleman (C), Stephen Gionta (C), Mike Hoeffel (LW), Brett Leonard (C), Mike Sislo (RW), Rem Vanderbeek (RW), Joseph Whitney (LW), Darcy Zajac (RW), Kelly Zajac (C)
Defense: Mark Fayne, Eric Gelinas, Dan Kelly, Matt Killian, Corbin McPherson, Daniel New, Matt Taormina, Alex Urbom
Goaltenders: Jeff Frazee, Keith Kinkaid
White wins scrimmage, 3-2
Two goals by Kelly Zajac led the White team to a 3-2 win over Red in Monday’s scrimmage.
Zajac, younger brother of Travis, scored on two Joseph Whitney rebounds. He notched the eventual winner at 2:16 of the second 20-minute half, beating goalie Scott Wedgewood. Josefson tallied both Red goals.
Larsson skated for the Red squad and spent a good part of the game paired with Brandon Burlon, the Devils’ second choice, 52nd overall, in 2008.
Jon Merrill, New Jersey’s second-round choice last year, will miss camp to attend summer school. Mattias Tedenby will miss camp because of a problem with his visa.
“It was not his fault, believe it or not,” Josefson said. “They had the wrong date of birth on his visa so it didn’t match his passport.”
Josefson explained they were about to check in at the airport when the error was discovered.
“They said, It’s the wrong date of birth. The USA won’t let you in the country, so you can’t fly,” Josefson said.