Better know a new Oiler: Philip Larsen- With my last few posts centred around newcomers to the Oilers organization, Will Acton and Jesse Joensuu, I was reminded of one of my favourite segments of the Colbert Report- Better know a district. Like the last few items I have posted, this article will surround Philip Larsen who was acquired from Dallas in the Shawn Horcoff trade. Is Larsen actually part of GM Craig Mactavish’s plan for the future or is he a simple ‘must take back’ like Aaron Johnson was when he was the player the Oilers received for Steve Staios a few years ago?
The way the player is described, seems to fit with Mactavish’s puck moving philosophy. A scouting report from the Hockey News:
This scouting report would seem to indicate a young NHL player who could still improve. On the surface, it makes the Shawn Horcoff trade seem even better as Larsen appears to be a tangible asset. However, is he? I’m not so sure.
Wandering around the internet, I found a blog post on Philip Larsen at the Dallas Stars blog, “Defending the Big D.” The post, by Erin Bolen, didn’t paint a glowing picture of Larsen and it was pretty clear that the 2012-13 season wasn’t a good one for the young Swede. From the post:
By nearly every measure, Larsen had a disappointing 2013 season. Injuries and a few trips to the press box limited him to 32 games, and he put up two goals and three assists with a minus-10 rating….He’s never been a huge point producer at any level, so it may be too much to ask of him to do that in the NHL. So the question will be if he’s a small-framed guy who is not trusted in key defensive minutes and he’s not a defenseman who they rely on to push the puck up the ice, what role are they looking at him to fill?
This report from someone who follows the Stars and the recent addition of Grebeshkov to the Oilers roster makes me doubt the Oilers had any plans of having Larsen on the opening night roster. It looks like he was a simple take back as the Stars have a number of solid defensive prospects they need to make room for (Oleksiak, Morrow, etc.).
You may ask, “how about his advanced stats?”. Rather than rewriting what has already been written, I’ll again quote the Bolen piece:
The advanced stats also point to him having a rough year. Larsen was highly sheltered in terms of the quality of competition he played against, seeing the vast majority of his time on the team’s third pairing. But he wasn’t able to take advantage of the easier minutes. He was the Stars second worst defenseman in Corsi On (the number of shot attempts taken by a team while a player is on the ice minus the number of shot attempts against) to Aaron Rome, and when that number is made relative to the quality of competition he faced, he was by far the worst defenseman on the team with a number almost double that of Jordie Benn’s.
So his advanced stats aren’t great either. Looks like a dump of a contract to make room for other players to me. However, given Horcoff’s cap hit, getting a warm NHL body is still pretty good return.
So what should fans expect from Philip Larsen? Not much. He will have a large task ahead of him to even make the squad coming out of training camp and I expect him to start the season in OKC. This is not a criticism of the trade Mactavish made as I am very impressed he was able to unload the Shawn Horcoff contract (not the player) without having to eat some of the salary. I could be reading the tea leaves wrong and Larsen could still be a player for the Oilers, but I very much doubt it.
Until next time,