In this year's SBN Mock Draft, I tried to think like Bob Murray. If there's one thing we can glean from his draft history, it's that he has a type. He loves him some skating defensemen. Think of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Shea Theodore and don't forget about Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz (I know, I know.. Boo).
In the past he's even gone so far as to say, "He can carry the puck. He can create offense. He can do all those things that Bruce and I can't teach him how to do. We can teach him how to play defense, which he's going to have to work on," at a season ticket holder event that we covered back in the summer of 2013.
With that in mind, I went to my handy copy of The Hockey News: Draft Edition for their ranking of the top prospects this year and looked for the best available skating/offensive/two-way defenseman. Unfortunately, Habs Eyes on the Prize pulled Tomas Chabot from the St. John Sea Dogs out from under us, which would have probably been a steal (and probably is for Montreal) considering he's ranked as high as 16 on some lists (ISS and Central Scouting among North American Skaters), not to mention a French speaker! So that sent us down to number 32 and Jacob Larsson who split his draft year with the U-20 and Senior teams at Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League.
There were a couple of other defensemen (Gabriel Carlsson from Linkoping and Brandon Carlo from the Tri-City Americans) available on THN's list between Chabot and Larsson but both were projected as defensive defensemen, so didn't quite fit the mold. So, without further ado, here is what to look for from the newest (fake) Anaheim Duck.
Jacob Larsson (D)
(Bio info from EliteProspects.com)
Twitter: @JacobLarsson3 (Dude loves a RT)
Birth Date: April 29, 1997 (how old does that make you feel?)
Weight: 190 lbs
#3 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)
#31 by TSN/McKenzie
#32 by The Hockey News
NHL team: Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL player: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Shootout move: "Patrick Kane's shootout goal vs. MIN (12/14/2011)" AKA super slow down and stick handle a million times, see 4:08 of this video. [Ed. Note: If he can pull that off, then welcome aboard! -CK]
Video game: FIFA 14
Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
TV show: Kvarteret Skatan
Actor: Johnny Depp
Sport (other than hockey): Soccer, tennis
Athlete (non-hockey): Roger Federer [Ed. Note: Hell Yeah! -CK]
Here's what Hockey's Future had to say about him this April:
As for Larsson, also 6'2", his all-around cerebral game made it simply impossible for a very deep Frolunda program to leave him in juniors. Despite a gluttony of young and more proven talent on their blueline, Larsson played 20 games, putting up three points and a +4 in the process.
Sportsnet's Profile on Larsson is here, including the following take from GFOP Jeff Marek:
An extremely versatile blueliner who gets around the ice with ease. He doesn't do anything spectacularly but is a good mix of size and skill, Larsson could really be a steal depending on where he's taken. Comparable: Chris Tanev
NHL Director of European scouting Goran Stubb (via the Columbus Blue Jackets' Draft Preview)
He will be even better when he gets more physical strength
From the aforementioned Hockey News Draft Issue:
When scouts see Larsson,they like almost everything in his game, but they see a player who needs to get stronger. Or as one scout so eloquently put it: "He has all the ability, but he's as weak as a noodle right now."
Larsson will likely fall into the second round, but at least one scout thinks the Swede will ultimately be a better player than countryman Gabriel Calrsson, pegged for the first round. "Somebody's going to get a really good defenseman."
Mobility and size are Larsson's calling cards, and whether he develops into a top-two or top-four defenseman could be dictated by how much he develops physically. His lack of bulk is not a huge concern at the moment since most scouts believe that will come and catch up to his skill level. "You think about a defenseman who can make plays out of is zone and in transition - he's that guy" said a scout. "You can't teach thinking and vision and poise and puck skills."
If you speak Swedish (beyond the occasional, "Bork, Bork, Bork!") there are several interviews on youtube but not many highlights. His player page on the SHL website has a few (including some assists to former Ducks prospect and OC native, Ryan Lasch).