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Devils Take D Larsson With 4th Pick In NHL Draft

Adam Larsson (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Adam Larsson (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Lou Lamoriello avoided any attempt to compare Adam Larsson to any current or former player after the New Jersey Devils grabbed the Swedish defenseman with the fourth pick in the NHL draft.

It’s not fair, the Devils general manager said Friday night.

What was fair was to say that the Devils, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996, were thrilled the 18-year-old was still on the board after Edmonton, Colorado and Florida chose offensive players with the first three selections.

“We are certainly delighted,” Lamoriello said in a telephone call from the draft in St. Paul, Minn. “Our scouts are excited and he certainly is someone who gives us a complete defenseman.

Larsson was the top-rated European player in the draft, and considered by many as the top defenseman. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder spent the last two seasons with Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League.

The pick was the Devils’ highest since taking defenseman Scott Niedermayer with the third choice in 1991, and it might have been easy to compare Larsson to Niedermayer or Detroit Red Wings superstar Nicklas Lidstrom.

Niedermayer helped the Devils win three Stanley Cups. Lidstrom is a seven-time winner of the Norris Trophy, given to the league’s best defenseman.

“You don’t make any comparisons,” Lamoriello said. “Everybody is going to find things. I don’t believe in comparisons because everyone is uniquely different. He will just be himself.”

Lamoriello refused to say where the Devils (38-39-5) had Larsson ranked on their draft board.

“It doesn’t matter because we were able to get him,” Lamoriello said. “It doesn’t matter where we had him. We got him at four.”

Larsson wasn’t surprised being bypassed on the first three selections, saying that was the indication he had heading into the draft.

Larsson wants to play in the NHL next season but that’s a decision that Devils will have to make.

“I would say I’m a two-way player and if people describe me that way, it’s correct,” Larsson said, adding he has extensive time playing the point on the power play.

The comparisons to Lidstrom are flattering, Larsson said.

“I am a fan of Nick Lidstrom, but I play my own game,” Larsson said.

Larsson knows a couple of Devils. He played with Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby on Sweden’s under-18 national team.

“They will make things easier for me from the start, but I will get used to it pretty fast,” Larsson said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)