Dallas Stars defense prospect Philip Larsen saw action in two games at the end of last season, and, after two particularly promising seasons in Europe, the Dane is ready to make the move to North America. He's taking part in the Traverse City prospect tournament and has held his own in the first two games.
Mike Heika spoke with Les Jackson about Larsen's progress and his performance in the tournament, and Jackson sounds satisfied with where he is at the moment.
"He has a good combination of feet, hands and head, and you see that in games like today," Jackson said. "He sees the game and reads it well and then reacts. Now, it's just a matter of getting him to do that at a quicker pace."
Jackson said the challenge to get from one league to the next is a tough one, and that's compounded by the fact Larsen is learning to play a different style of hockey. He said that it's logical to give him a year to develop.
"But if anyone can do it, it's probably him," Jackson said.
Dallas traded Ivan Vishnevskiy to get Kari Lehtonen last spring, leaving Larsen as the one quality defensive prospect on the radar. In reality, Larsen had already seemed to have passed Vishnevskiy in Stars management's eyes because of his more balanced, responsible game, even if he wass a step behind developmentally. However the organization viewed them, Larsen is here and Vishnevskiy isn't, and he has the puck moving ability to fit perfectly into Marc Crawford's system.
While Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Nicklas Grossman, Mark Fistric, Karlis Skrastins and Matt Niskanen look essentially set at the back, the position was the major team weakness last season, and injuries and trades are always possibilities for this franchise in flux. Larsen could be the first guy to get a look at regular minutes if a move is needed, and he could be a big part of this team's blueline future.