With the 26th overall pick in the NHL entry draft, one can hardly expect a team to pick a player that will immediately come up and make an impact with the team the following season. That said, it is imperative to look for guys that can possibly come up within the next few years, and that will provide some extra depth where you need it.
For the Montreal Canadiens, the need for depth is on defense, and Jacob Larsson of Sweden could be a solid candidate to that end.
Unlike his countryman Oliver Kylington, who cracked the SHL at 16, Larsson only managed to get his first taste of the pros last year at the age of 17. Through 20 games with Frolunda, he didn't exactly turn heads offensively with only three points, but he fared quite well. This year he'll likely spend more time in the SHL
While he didn't blow the doors off scoring wise, he's also not the type of player expected to do that. He's an excellent puck mover, makes a great first pass, but his major area of strength is in his own zone. He has no problem getting physical and separating players from the puck, something he does very well without putting himself out of position.
The book on Larsson basically reads as a two way, puck moving defender, who can be a shut down guy when he needs to as well. I have scoured the internet for information about this guy, and have yet to find anyone say a bad thing about his game.
Jumps into the play and can quarterback the powerplay very well – Makes the right decisions on a consistent basis to maximize his play in all zones.
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 Uses his physicality to play the body in separating opponents from the puck. Very vocal on the ice. Plays strong positional defense and uses an active stick to disrupt. Shows some strong leadership qualities.
"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"
Future Considerations: 30th
Craig Button: 22nd
Central Scouting Service, European Skaters: 3rd
It doesn't seem too likely that Larsson will be available when the Habs get their turn to pick, but it's definitely not out of the question either. If he is still available, they absolutely need to give him some serious consideration
Arguably the number one position where the Habs need to add depth is on defense, particularly the left side, so the left-handed Larsson would be a great addition. He can't be expected to blow the doors off offensively, but if what the Canadiens are looking for is a solid defenseman that is very responsible in his own zone, this could be their man.
The fact that he's been noted as a strong powerplay quarterback should also be a point of great interest for the Canadiens. In recent years the special teams unit has been rather brutal, and an injection of a prospect that can help on that front is absolutely something worth going for.