Kraken’s Larsson a Key Factor in Seattle’s Hot Start

Through the Seattle Kraken‘s first 14 games, a few trends have become clear. This team can outscore their problems, is one of the best teams in the league at preventing shots against, and Adam Larsson continues to be one of the most underrated players in the league. Arguably the Kraken’s best defenceman last season, the former fourth overall pick from 2011 is once again on his way to another strong season.

Larsson’s Analytical Deep Dive

Larsson isn’t a point producer, so it is hard to determine his value based on counting statistics such as goals, assists and points. To truly understand his value, we must dive into his advanced analytics. What the analytics show is that not only is he valuable to the Kraken, but he is also one of the most valuable defencemen across the league.

Adam Larsson, Seattle Kraken
Adam Larsson, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

One way to determine a player’s value is wins above replacement (WAR). This statistic measures how many extra or, in some cases, fewer wins a team gets because the player is in the lineup compared to if subbed out for an average player. While this statistic comes from the world of baseball, it has helped show the value players like Larsson, who don’t have high counting stats have on a team. So far this season, he ranks second on the Kraken with a 0.6 WAR rating. Across the NHL, he is tied for 25th amongst defencemen with players like Vince Dunn, Adam Fox, Tyson Barrie and Jared Spurgeon.

Related: Kraken’s 2021-22 Season in Review: Behind the Metrics

While WAR ratings are very complicated, a simpler way to determine a player’s value with advanced statistics is through Corsi percentage and PDO. So far this season, he has a Corsi of 51.8 percent, which is good considering he is used as a shutdown defender against the league’s top players. As for his PDO, that shows that not only is he shutting down the league’s best, the Kraken are an offensive threat when he is on the ice.

For those unfamiliar with PDO, it adds the team’s shooting percentage to the goaltender’s save percentage when the player is on the ice. In Larsson’s case, at even strength, the team’s shooting percentage is 12.5 percent, and the goaltender’s save percentage is 92.7 percent, which equals out to 105.2. In short, the team does better when he is on the ice, as their average shooting percentage is 10.37 percent, and their average save percentage is 91.22 percent. As mentioned, his counting statistics may be low, but he has had a major impact on this team whenever he steps on the ice.

Larsson’s Counting Statistics

Analytics isn’t for everyone, but luckily, Larsson has solid counting statistics that help illustrate just how strong he has been this season. It has been established that he is not a point producer, and the counting statistics back that up, as he has three points in 14 games. Where the statistics show his value is in blocks and hits. Currently, he ranks on the Kraken second in blocks with 26 and third in hits with 32. He is also the team leader in ice time at 23:09 and is one of two players on the team to score a shorthanded goal.

Related: 2021-22 Kraken Report Cards: Donskoi, Larsson, Schwartz

There is one area of Larsson’s game that has been concerning, which is takeaways. So far this season, he only has two compared to seven giveaways. Over his career, he has never been known as a player who can create takeaways, as his career high is 28, so this is an area he still needs to improve. If he can produce more takeaways and start limiting the turnover, it will further cement his case to be considered the top defencemen on the Kraken.

A Quiet Leader

Larsson is the perfect example of a player every team needs. A solid defender who doesn’t get talked about a ton yet makes a positive difference every game. While he may not get the credit he deserves, he has been a major factor in Seattle’s 8-4-2 start this season.

Statistics provided by Evolving Hockey and Hockey Reference.