2015 NHL Draft Profile #25: Jacob Larsson

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Jacob Larsson has split the season playing for Frolunda in the SHL, and with their U20 team in the Swedish Junior League. Playing against men, he has put up 3 points in 20 games.  Playing in the under 20 league, he had 8 goals and 19 points in 30 games.  Larsson also played on Sweden’s team at the IIHF U18 World Championships, picking up three assists in five games, while the Swedes fell to Canada in the quarterfinal of the tournament. He also played at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.  Larsson has gotten better as the season has went along, and is rising quickly up draft boards.  Some even see him challenging Oliver Kylington for the title of best Swedish defenceman in this draft class, something that few would have bet on before the season.

Jacob Larsson

Defense — shoots Left
Born Apr 29 1997 — Ljungby, SWE
Height 6.02 — Weight 191 [188 cm/87 kg]

Jacob Larsson is a very good skater.  He has a very smooth stride, which generates very good top end speed and strong acceleration in both directions.  His edgework, pivots, and agility are all extremely good, making Larsson a very difficult defender to beat one-on-one off the rush. He is strong on his skates and has good balance, allowing him to be physical in puck battles and in clearing the crease.  He is tough to knock off the puck when he has it on his stick.

Jacob Larsson is not flashy, but he has solid all-around skill.  His wrist shot and slapshot are good, but not bombs. He is extremely smart though, and makes sure to get it on net, and keep it low for rebounds and tip-ins.  He shows good poise with the puck on his stick and makes smart plays.  Larsson’s vision and passing skill is excellent.  He makes a great first pass out of his zone, and can make the long stretch pass if a forward is open.  He has not really shown the passing skills in the offensive zone though, he’s decent back there, but his ability as a “power play quarterback” seems limited.  Larsson isn’t one to lead the rush and go coast to coast very often, but he can join as a trailer and let go his accurate shot.  Going forward he would not likely be on an NHL team’s first unit powerplay unless he shows huge improvements in the next couple years, but he does have some skill and could be part of a second unit.

Larsson’s defensive game is his real strength.  He is gritty and willing to battle in front of the net and in the corners but is not one to throw big hits. He could use an increase in upper body strength to play at the pro level though. Larsson reads the play well and has very good positioning.  He is willing to block shots and uses an active stick to cut down passing lanes.  He has very good gap control and forces opposing forwards to the outside. When he gets the puck, Larsson moves it out of the zone quickly and starts the transition game.  He also can skate the puck out of pressure on the forecheck.

Jacob Larsson may not be the flashiest player, but he is extremely effective.  His solid two-way game gives him the cieling to be a top pairing defender if he can reach his potential.  At 6’2″ he has the size teams covet and this should certainly help his draft stock.  That said he could stand to add some upper-body muscle and strength. Larsson’s game is reminiscent of Jay Bouwmeester of the St. Louis Blues, but this is a style comparison and not a talent one.

Below are some videos of Jacob Larsson in action.

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