Anaheim Ducks: Jacob Larsson has a lot to Prove and Little Time

Jacob Larsson #32 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Jacob Larsson #32 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Anaheim Ducks defenseman, Jacob Larsson, has a lot to prove to earn a full-time roster spot and not a lot of time to do it in.

At one point in time, the Anaheim Ducks had what was one of the more impressive groups of defensive prospects in the league. However, Bob Murray gutted the group like a car in a chop shop. Now, the blueline is struggling, and the players we had hoped would step up and be heroes haven’t exactly been our saving grace.

There were a lot of expectations put on the next wave of up and coming defenseman. Jacob Larsson being one of them. While these expectations may have been a little unfair, his performance with the team in 2019-20 isn’t something to write home about. The Swedish “stay at home” defenseman seemed to take a few steps backward. In turn, he saw the least amount of average ice time out of any of the Anaheim Ducks blueline regulars.

This brings up a very relevant question. Has Jacob Larsson earned his keep? While I would love to answer this question with a resounding yes, the reality of it is, the young defenseman still has a lot to prove and little time to do it.

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Bob Murray and the Anaheim Ducks aren’t quite finished with him yet. Larsson penned a 2-year, $2.4M contract extension in August. This gives him ample time to prove that he can be a contributing factor to the Anaheim Ducks lineup. However, there is a significant roadblock in his way.

Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Cam Fowler, and Erik Grudbranson are likely the four players that will make up the Anaheim Ducks top-4 during the 2020-21 season. This leaves the team with two open spots and six defensemen to choose from. The likelihood that Jani Hakanpa will make the leap to the NHL is probably slim to none. Nevertheless, players like Kodie

Curran, Christian Djoos, Brendan Guhle, and Josh Mahura all have what it takes to potentially push Larsson back to the minors.

However, if one thing can be said about Larsson it is the fact that he is always trying. He is not one to give up easily. He has passion, dedication, determination, and spunk. The other thing that Larsson has going for him is also the absence of players like Michael Del Zotto and Korbinian Holzer. Neither player really compliments the 23-year old defenseman, and playing along a more likeminded defenseman could do wonders for his game.

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He has shown a lot of chemistry with someone like Josh Manson in the past. It is possible that placing him alongside a player that complements his game could do wonders for his development and performance on the ice. It could be a fair assessment that he is far too underdeveloped to have the responsibility of Holzer and Del Zotto placed on his shoulders. Regardless, Dallas Eakins knows better than anyone that pairing Larsson with players like that was a recipe for disaster.

It would be easy for us to give up on Jacob Larsson and cross our fingers that some team might want to take him off our hands. Nevertheless, it isn’t fair for us to ask so much of him. He isn’t Brandon Montour and he certainly isn’t Shea Theodore, so why place similar expectations on him? It’s time for us to start placing realistic expectations on the young Swede. He still has many years of development left, and some things just take time and patience.

But, Larsson has a lot of work to do if he plans on outplaying the “competition.” A permanent spot isn’t guaranteed, especially considering his recent performance. Now is the time for him to put his nose to the grindstone and play the hardest he has ever played before.

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