The Anaheim Ducks have loaned defender Jacob Larsson to the Kristianstads IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second-tier hockey league. With the 2021 NHL season in flux, many players — especially prospects and players who returned to Europe earlier this year — are choosing to play in European leagues that have already resumed play. Larsson will be eligible to return whenever the NHL/AHL return.
The 23-year-old Swedish defender was the Ducks’ first round selection in 2015, going 27th overall after the Ducks made it to the Western Conference Final that postseason. Meanwhile, Larsson had made his debut with Frölunda HC, playing 20 games with the Swedish men’s league. He was third-highest ranked European skater heading into the 2015 draft.
Larsson’s path to the NHL saw him return to Frölunda rather than play with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. His first full season on North American ice came in 2017-18, putting up 3 goals and 13 assists in 50 games with the Gulls. Last year, he played the majority of the season with the big club, suiting up for 60 games and tallying 2 goals and 9 assists.
Facing restricted free agency this off-season, Larsson signed a two-year contract extension worth $2.4 million with the Ducks on August 6.
Larsson had a rough outing in the 2019-20 season. He’s never been much of an offensive threat — his draft year was a career year in points, with 19 over the 30 games he played with Frölunda’s U20 club. But last year, he was a blackhole for offense and his defensive play suffered even more so.
Larsson spent the majority of his time, however, playing with Korbinian Holzer, an even larger blackhole on defense, and Michael Del Zotto, who had an equally rough year. The defense was overall pretty bad, but Larsson seems like he’s in a decent position to bounce back, especially if given a quality partner in the upcoming season. Holzer and Del Zotto are both still currently unrestricted free agents.
So far the Ducks have loaned six players to European clubs: Axel Andersson to Södertälje SK (HockeyAllsvenskan), Isac Lundestrom to Timrå IK (HockeyAllsvenskan), Hunter Drew to HC Banska Bystrica (Slovakia), Roman Durny to HC Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia) and Lukas Dostal to Ilves (Liiga).