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30 in 15: Devils sleeper Larsson poised for next step

Thursday, 09.19.2013 / 3:46 PM / Features
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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30 in 15: Devils sleeper Larsson poised for next step
Is this the year defenseman Adam Larsson becomes an everyday player for the New Jersey Devils? Coach Peter DeBoer is a believer.

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Is this the year defenseman Adam Larsson becomes an everyday player for the New Jersey Devils?

Coach Peter DeBoer thinks so.

"I believe Adam is ready to take a step here," DeBoer told NHL.com. "He came into the League and has had two years learning the pro game and spent valuable time in the American Hockey League last year during the lockout, and I believe he knows what this is about now and is ready to take a step."

DeBoer has been very patient with the 20-year-old Swede during his first two seasons in the NHL. He's allowed him to play alongside many of the veterans, including Andy Greene, and at times opted to have him watch from the stands as a healthy scratch. The fact Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello traded veteran Henrik Tallinder could signal more playing time for the 2011 first-round (No. 4) draft pick.

"He's got tons of potential," Devils captain Bryce Salvador told NHL.com. "It's a tough position to come in and produce, and very rarely do you have a defenseman who hasn't spent time in the minors. So I think that last year was tough for him but, all in all, he has all the assets and skills and he'll be fine."

Larsson averaged 18:06 of ice time and saw more action in penalty-killing situations than on the power play during the 2012-13 season when he finished with no goals and six assists in 37 games. He had four goals and 19 points in 33 games with the team's AHL affiliate in Albany.

"It's no secret that defensemen take a while to come into their own in this league and I believe Adam is on the verge of that," DeBoer said.

There were several moments last season when Larsson would use his body effectively, make smart decisions at the point and generate some quality chances. Though he didn't score a goal, he finished sixth on the team in hits (94) and fifth in blocked shots (67). He averaged 0.81 shots per game, however.

As a rookie in 2011-12, when he averaged 1.04 shots, he had two goals and 18 points in 65 games. He also was given more playing time with the man advantage, averaging 1:38 on the power play. He equaled a franchise record for rookie defensemen (Scott Niedermayer, Bruce Driver) with points in five straight games, producing one goal and four assists from Nov. 19-26, 2011.

"I see myself as a two-way defenseman, but it doesn't matter to me how the team uses me because I want to help and want to play," Larsson said. "If it's penalty kill or power play, I'll do whatever it takes to make sure I'm part of the team."

With more game exposure and ice time on the power play in 2013-14, look for Larsson to become a valuable asset for the Devils this season with the possibility of reaching personal high marks across the board.

"You have to realize he's still a young kid and you can't overanalyze, just let him play," Salvador said. "He's making plays out there that top defensemen make and he's going to grow on his own. Fortunately, he's in a good organization that's patient with him; they see the bigger picture in what they have with him."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 64 41 18 5 172 142 87
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
M. Cammalleri 52 24 10 5 34
A. Henrique 57 12 20 -2 32
P. Elias 54 10 17 -12 27
S. Gomez 40 5 19 -10 24
T. Zajac 56 10 10 -3 20
S. Bernier 49 10 9 0 19
A. Larsson 46 3 16 5 19
M. Ryder 44 6 12 -2 18
A. Greene 64 2 13 7 15
E. Gelinas 44 5 9 -2 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 24 23 6 .928 2.17
K. Kinkaid 3 4 3 .915 2.59