Nation Network Prospect Profiles: #45 Jacob Larsson

With the obvious top-ranked prospect out of the way yesterday, we can now turn our attention to our top-45 prospect countdown for the upcoming entry draft. We start our ranking by profiling our consensus 45th ranked prospect for this season: slick puck moving defender Jacob Larsson.

Join us after the jump to learn about the player that some consider Sweden’s best prospect for this month’s draft.

Bio:

  • Age: 17.38 years old at start of season. Born April 29, 1997.
  • Birthplace: Ljungby, Sweden
  • Frame: 6’2, 191 lbs
  • Draft Year Team: Frolunda (SHL), Frolunda J20 (SuperElit)
  • Accomplishments: 2014 J18 Allsvenskan Best Defenseman, 2014 J18 SM Bronze Medal, 2015 J20 SM Silver Medal

Stats:

PCS% 2014 PCS Pts/82 2014 PCS% 2015 PCS Pts/82 2015
6.9% 18.5 22.2% 31.4
PCS Most NHL GP PCS Highest Pts/GP
Roman Hamrlik Teppo Numminen
Teppo Numminen Roman Hamrlik
Ulf Samuelsson Ulf Samuelsson

Scouts:

Draft rank:

NHL CSS ISS FutureConsiderations HockeyProspect Pronman McKeen’s McKenzie Button
3 (EU) 34 30 N/A 55 N/A 31 22

From FutureConsiderations:

A puck moving, two-way defender…makes a great first pass to his forwards…uses his strength to protect the puck…skates well with a smooth stride that generates solid speed…very agile and fluid…showed great vision by seeing smart passing lanes…shoots low and hard attempting to create rebound chances…use his physicality to play the body in separating opponents from the puck…very vocal on the ice…played strong positional defense and used an active stick to disrupt…shows some strong leadership qualities. 

From Craig Button, TSN:

Larsson is very smart and poised and makes plays under pressure. A very good passer who gives you the puck in good time. Doesn’t pass along his problems and finds good options when he has the puck. His skating is solid and he maneuvers well to gain strong defensive positioning and to take advantage offensively. Ideally suited to today’s NHL.

Our Take:

Playing off the radar a bit in Sweden, Jacob Larsson is a smooth-skating and mobile defender who has all the tools to make the jump to the next level of professional hockey. At a young 17 years of age, he was already suiting up for Frolunda of the SHL, which in itself is a good indicator of overall talent. Larsson is universally praised for his decisions with the puck, and despite a paltry three points in twenty SHL games this season, seems to project as one of the top European offensive defenders in the class of 2015.

His game with the puck is the main thing scouts universally praise, as he’s said to have strong puck skills and be an adept passer. Even in the SHL, Larsson was able to play with the puck and make good decisions under pressure, getting himself and his team out of trouble. His shot is also said to be pretty solid for such a young player in one of Europe’s top men’s leagues.

I spoke with someone quite familiar with Larsson and Frolunda in the SHL, and he too praised Larsson’s offensive game, but questioned some of the two-way ability scouts reportedly saw in Larsson at the Swedish J-20 level, where he was undoubtedly a dominant player. The individual I talked to praised Larsson’s passing ability and awareness on offence, but also noted that there were notable lapses in his defensive game as he struggled with off-puck reads.

In particular, Larsson’s decision making in the defensive zone has to improve, as does his positional play. The concern is that these flaws are born out of an IQ problem rather than a “he needs time to adjust” problem, but Corey Pronman also notes similar issues in Larsson’s game. As Larsson climbs the professional ladder, he will have to continue to work on rounding out his defensive game.

All in all, Larsson is a very good prospect that likely projects to fill a second or third pair role in the NHL should he develop. His value tends toward generating offense, but being a threat in transition can lead to good defensive results all the same. He probably won’t be a fantastic two-way guy, but a 6’2 frame at least gives him the potential for an average of better physical game at the NHL level if he’s able to fill it out, so there’s at least a realistic chance for him to be okay in his own zone.

If it all works out for Larsson, he could be a very nice complimentary piece on a very good NHL defence corps.