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Saturday, June 25, 2011
Larsson: 'All my hard work paid off'

By Mike Mazzeo

Adam Larsson has it all: size, strength and skill.

The question is: what does he need to improve on?

“My shot,” Larsson told ESPN NewYork.com during a telephone interview after being selected fourth overall by the Devils in the 2011 NHL Draft. “But I’m going to try to work on it everyday in Sweden.”

Many projected that Larsson, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman from Sweden, might be taken No. 1 overall, but he fell right into the Devils’ lap -- and they couldn’t pass him up. The Devils eventually envision Larsson, who said the best part of his game is his “hockey sense,” as a top-pair, two-way defenseman who can quarterback their power play.

“All my hard work paid off,” said Larsson, 18, who played the last season with Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League. “I worked so hard for this, (when I heard my name called) it was a special moment.”

Twenty years ago, the Devils drafted a defenseman by the name of Scott Niedermayer with the No. 3 overall back. Twenty years later, they’re hoping Larsson can have a similar impact.

“I’m not thinking about that,” Larsson said when asked about comparisons to Niedermayer and Scott Stevens. “I’m just happy to get drafted.”

Larsson grew up idolizing Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.

“He’s a two-way defenseman like I am,” Larsson said. “Of course I like the way he plays.”

The Devils have notorious for let their draft picks develop in their system. According to ESPN.com, their prospects wait an average of 3.3 years before making their NHL debuts.

However, Larsson says he’s ready to step in right away.

“I think I’m ready,” Larsson said. “I just need to prepare myself before the season begins.

If he does make the team out of training camp, Larsson will have the opportunity to play in front of Martin Brodeur before the future Hall of Famer retires.

“That will be an amazing feeling,” Larsson said of playing with Brodeur. “It will be a huge moment for me.”