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The Dawn of the Age of Larsson?

Ever since Lou Lamoriello fired Pete DeBoer, Adam Larsson has seen a bump in just about every statistic to the point that he is now one of our most consistent defenders.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Larsson's birthday is November 12, 1992. However, he should look into legally declaring a rebirthday as December 26th, 2014. This is the day that Lou Lamoriello let Peter DeBoer go as the coach of the New Jersey Devils.

There was always a somewhat facetiously-stated, assumed ant-Larsson bias when DeBoer was in charge. No one could figure out why Larsson was routinely being sat for the likes of Salvador, Harrold, and young unproven guys like Merrill, Gelinas, and even Severson. Now Some of these decisions worked out well and others did not so much. Regardless the fact that a 4th overall pick was taking so long to be given an extended chance to prove himself was one of the confusing choices that led Devils fans to sour on PDB towards the end of his tenure.

Then, when the Cerberus came in to replace the absent DeBoer, Larsson was immediately thrust into a more prominent role.

Pairing with Greene

Andy Greene and Damon Severson were a revelation together at the beginning of this year. In my article about Devils who can expect a better second half, I charted the on-ice corsi differential for Andy Greene as a moving average. The day that Damon Severson got injured, Greene's possession numbers immediately and notably plummeted. Right up until DeBoer's firing, there was hodgepodge of different attempts to find a new partner for Greene, none of which were met with much success. Right around the time the Hydra replaced DeBoer, Larsson became Greene's right hand man.

According to WOWYs from HockeyAnalysis, Andy Greene has done even better with Larsson than he did with Severson. This has led to them being ice-time giants. According to Left Wing Lock, they are the most common pairing on the team and they are on together over 32% of each game on average in the past 10 games. Now without Andy Greene, Larsson is still a minus possession player, but many great pairings suffer without the significant other. What will be interesting is how the Ghidora (running out of 3-headed things fast) of coaches will approach Severson's return?

Before and After

Using WAR on Ice's date-filtering system, I compiled a list of key statistics from before and after the firing of Deboer.

Adam Larsson Stats Before and After the Firing of Pete DeBoer
Gm G60 A60 P60 TOI/Gm TOI% SCF%Rel CF%Rel GF%
Before 19 0.3 0.8 1.1 11.9 25.3 2.7 -0.5 41.7
After 12 0.3 1.4 1.7 17.5 36 12.1 10.4 55.6
Difference 0 0.6 0.6 5.6 10.7 9.4 10.9 13.9

Notice a trend? Adam Larsson has improved in all of the most common and most helpful statistics. The per 60 stats show that his normal offensive production has actually picked up pace even with his increased time on ice. Speaking of which, his time on ice has gone from 12 minutes per game soaring all the way up to 17.5 minutes per game and most recently logged 26 minutes in the OT win versus the Leafs in which he scored a clutch tying goal. This was game 13AD (after DeBoer) and it looks to be setting the tone for the post-break Devils.

And who can blame the Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon of coaches (yes I've stooped to making Yu-Gi-Oh references) for amping up the Swedes ice time. The team is improving by 12.1% points in scoring chance differential when he is on the ice. That Relative SCF% statistic is up 10 percentage points from the DeBoer days and is also good for 6th in the NHL over that span.

Oh and he also went from a negative possession player to helping us by 10.4% and improved almost 14 percentage points in goals for percentage. These are monumental improvements and they are indicative of a changed player.

Legitimate Growth

Larsson is being helped by having a coaching staff that is finally willing to invest something in him and letting him play with the best defender on our team. But there is also genuine growth. Let's examine the hextally charts from his first 3 seasons versus his hextally this year. The numbers on the charts below refer to the difference from the league average the Devils are measured in Shots per 60. There are 3 numbers corresponding to the Low, Medium, and High danger shots. For instance, tje first number on the chart is -0.292. This means that the Devils averaged .292 less shots than the league average from the low percentage zone with Larsson on the ice from 2011-2014. Use that as a template to appreciate the growth of the young blueliner below.


Larsson Before


Larsson After
Wow. Talk about a total 180. From 2011-2014 the Devils were plainly worse with Larsson on the ice. If you take the time to go to WAR on Ice and check the Devils hextally from those year, you'll see they bear no resemblence to Larsson's. This is to say that despite the Devils being significantly worse this year than past years, Larsson has had undeniable improvement. The Devils are better in every zone with him on the ice and they improve more and more the higher the danger is. With Larsson, the Devils average an insane 3.42 shots per 60 minutes above league average from the slot.

Focus on just those high-danger zones. The shot differential in his first 3 years -1.01 and that increased this year to +3.30. Again this is despite the Devils being worse this year and being yanked around by DeBoer the first quarter of this season. These are the snapshots of a very encouraging young defender.


Adam Larsson is a skilled young hockey player. He has plenty of room for improvement, but I hope that his play the past month has convinced those who wanted to trade him at the deadline for a young forward to keep him. He has shown natural improvement, he has really clicked with Greene, he has been great since DeBoer left, and he is finally looking comfortable. Fluffy the Runespoor has no choice but to keep trotting him out there until he disproves the notion that he is an extremely intriguing young D-man. Okay I'm officially out of three-headed things now.

Your Thoughts

Has Larsson impressed you the past month? Do the statistics surprise you or do they sound right? What do you think happens when Severson returns? Is Larsson just the latest average defender to benefit from the Greene-factor? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.