The last three years, the Habs have shied away from picking a defenceman in the top-50 at the draft, opting to focus on forwards instead. Understandably, that has left the depth at that position quite underwhelming. There are quite a few blueliners who could be strong options for Montreal with the 26th pick later this month. One of those is Swedish defender Jacob Larsson.
DOB: April 29, 1997 – Ljun, Sweden
Height: 6′ 2.25"
Weight: 188 lbs
(Height/Weight numbers are updated as of the NHL Combine.)
CSB: 3 (European Skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 31
Future Considerations: 30
Hockey News: 32
The term ‘projectable’ doesn’t get thrown around in hockey anywhere near as much as it does in baseball but it certainly applies to Larsson. He has the tools to be a quality top four blueliner but he has a long way to go to get there.
In terms of his skating, Larsson is lacking that extra bit of acceleration that would allow him to skate his way out of trouble more often than not. Instead, as things stand, he can be turnover-prone when pressured and a lack of intensity from shift to shift can also cause some difficulties.
Although he hasn’t piled up the points, his offensive skill set suggests that there is plenty of room for growth and that he could be someone who could run a power play at some stage. Defensively, Larsson gets to the right positions but a lack of strength has seen him struggle fending off opposing attackers, especially when he played at the SHL level.
As is always the case with projectable prospects, whoever gets him will be overlooking players who have shown a lot more in terms of current skill in the hopes that Larsson can take some big steps forward. The tools are there for him to become a strong top-four defenceman. However, if he doesn’t take those steps, he’d more or less be a depth defender who is decent in most areas but lacks a strong go-to skill that helps him stand out amongst the rest. He’d still be an NHL’er, but more of a 6/7 type of player.
Larsson has two more years left on his deal with Frolunda in the Swedish League and he’ll need at least that much time to put on considerable strength to be able to handle playing at the North American professional level. After that, a year in the AHL would serve him well so in all likelihood, he’s probably a good three years away. If the Habs want someone who could make an impact sooner rather than later, they may be inclined to stay away here.