Technically Adam Larsson counted as the Seattle Kraken’s Expansion Draft selection from the Edmonton Oilers, but that wasn’t actually the case. In spite of the Oilers having two of the best players in the world on their roster, Larsson made the decision, during the special window given to the Kraken for negotiations with pending unrestricted free agents, to leave his Canadian club and start anew in Seattle.
The 29 year old (28 at the time he signed) agreed to terms on a four year deal at $4 million per season, ensuring he’d be an important part of the league’s newest club for the foreseeable future. Larsson is 6’3”, weighs 208lbs and was selected fourth overall by the New Jersey Devils back in 2011. Even prior to his draft year, offense was never Larsson’s calling card, but does show flashes every now and again.
Still, scoring isn’t the reason that you sign a big, tough, defensive defenseman with a mean streak. Larsson would be a legitimate top four defender on any NHL team, and that’s the role he has played on the Kraken thus far. Facing opponents’ best players on a regular basis isn’t easy, but head coach Dave Hakstol is no doubt happy to be able to send #6 over the boards each night.
He’s also durable. While he doesn’t have a career iron-man streak matching the likes of Keith Yandle or Phil Kessel, he usually plays most or all of his team’s regular season games, and has shown well in limited postseason opportunities over his career. Larsson makes opposing players flinch, throwing an average of 2.4 hits per game (if that doesn’t sound like much, it works out to more than 1500 collisions in his 10 NHL seasons), and he blocks shots without concern for his own safety.
Larsson was a standout at the 2010 World Junior tournament, being named to the all-star team after helping Sweden to a podium finish (bronze), and it was likely that history, along with his draft pedigree that convinced former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli to trade the highly talented Taylor Hall, a future league MVP, straight across for Larsson.
Larsson’s father was his inspiration to play hockey. Robert Larsson played from 1985 to 1995 for Skelleftea HC in Sweden, and was even drafted in the 6th round by the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, though he never played a game for the NHL club. In Larsson’s own words, his father introduced him to the sport and he’s “been playing ever since.” That close relationship surely meant that the sudden loss of his father, at the relatively young age of 51, on February 1st, 2018 affected him deeply.
The signing of Larsson this summer was a victory for Kraken GM Ron Francis, showing that players believed in Francis’ vision for the new club. He, along with Jamie Oleksiak, form the backbone of a strong Kraken defensive corps. Despite occasional struggles, which can only be expected in an expansion club, Larsson and the rest of the Kraken have scored victories against a number of the best teams in the league, at times dominating offensively, but also finding a way to win tight-checking matches such as their recent 2-1 victory versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
Besides hockey, Larsson is a fan of both football (the soccer kind), and tennis (with Swiss star Roger Federer being his favorite player). He grows a mean beard, can swear at you in multiple languages, and in a recent match against his former team, he scored just as many goals as Connor McDavid. He left a huge hole in the Oilers’ blue line when he chose Seattle, but around here we’re very happy he did. He’ll be a vital piece as the Kraken build toward the future, so here’s to you Adam: Skål!