July 1 begins Free Agency Frenzy, but that doesn't stop teams from re-signing their restricted free agents. Tom Gulitti confirmed at Fire & Ice that the New Jersey Devils have re-signed defenseman Adam Larsson. The contract is for one year at $900,000 on a one-way contract. This is essentially a bridge contract. What that usually means is that a shorter, cheaper deal is made now in advance of a longer, more lucrative deal.
Larsson's entry level contract was up this summer. It's hard to say as far what kind of impact he'll making going forward. He immediately made it to the NHL after being drafted fourth overall by the Devils in 2011. He was thrown into playing close to twenty minutes per game in his first season before injuries derailed him and his spot. Since then, Larsson hasn't exactly had a cemented role on the blueline. Injuries played a part in that. Performance played a part in that. Mostly, it was because of the sheer number of defensemen signed. Larsson was victim of a numbers game, most recently last season. When Larsson returned from injury, the emergence of Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill meant someone had to go to Albany. As Larsson was not waiver eligible, he was the odd man out for months at a time. While one could argue how this affected his development, the Devils defense wasn't a house of a fire without him. Larsson wasn't exactly putting wonderful underlying numbers against stiff competition per Extra Skater.
Larsson is only 21, so it's not remotely fair to say that he's a bust. He's a young NHL-caliber defenseman that can still get better. From watching him play, keeping his head up and on a swivel would do him a world of good in terms of avoiding so many hits and making better reads. When he does, he can make some lovely first passes out of his own end and make good positional plays. That's something fixable and I'd like to think he did so with his time in Albany. I am not totally confident he'll provide a lot on offense, but in 128 games, I do think he'll become a fine defender at this level.
Considering both, I have no complaints at all about this deal. Larsson hasn't played enough and well enough to command a substantially long and lucrative deal. As it's a one-way deal, Larsson will get every cent of that $900,000. The Devils still have plenty of cap space to use for other restricted free agents and whoever is available on July 1 and beyond. With Volchenkov bought out, Larsson will have every chance to stay in New Jersey and earn that next deal. The better he plays, the more he'll benefit himself next summer. Due to his age, he'll be a restricted free agent at the end of this deal so the Devils remain in control of his rights. It's clear to me this is good for both the Devils and Larsson.
What do you think of this deal? Happy that Larsson is back on a one-year deal worth less than seven figures? Do you think this means he'll get the opportunity to stay in the NHL and command more money next summer? Please leave your answers and thoughts about Larsson in the comments. Thank you for reading.