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Adam Larsson putting trade to Oilers in past

Defenseman quietly improving Edmonton after being acquired from Devils in June

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- The cacophony of opinion that arose on June 29 when the Edmonton Oilers traded forward Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson has subsided.

Hall, who had 132 goals in six seasons for the Oilers, was immensely popular with many fans.

But the tempest that followed the trade has gone almost quiet, a product of being into the second month of the NHL season and Larsson simply having a chance to do his job.

"I think he knew all eyeballs were going to be on him just because of the trade," Oilers goalie Cam Talbot said of Larsson. "He knew he would have to come out here and do a job and I think he's done it exceptionally well.

"He's not the flashiest guy but that's not his job. He's sound defensively and he wins his one-on-one battles in the corners and he doesn't get beat too often one-on-one coming into the zone. So he's doing exactly what we needed him to do and it's worked out well.

"He's come in and shored up our back end. We're head-and-shoulders above where we were last year at this point as a team and I think he's a big part of it."

The Oilers (9-6-1) begin a three-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; PRIME, SNOL, NHL.TV).

Oilers coach Todd McLellan agreed Monday that the focus has shifted away from the trade.

"[Larsson] plays hard," McLellan said. "He plays physical. He grinds out the other team. You have to watch closely to see those things but he's very effective with it. He's not making very many obvious errors, where you go, 'Wow, that was a bonehead play.' He doesn't make those. So that's probably what you're seeing."

Larsson, 24, has been used on the Oilers top defense pair with Oscar Klefbom. They are a work in progress, McLellan said.

"[Larsson] has been a real stabilizing factor back there," McLellan said. "His task hasn't been easy because he's playing with [Klefbom], who has basically missed a year (Klefbom was limited to 30 games last season because of injury). They're a new pair, not familiar with each other. Just because they're from Sweden doesn't mean they're always on the same page.

"So [Klefbom] is trying to find his game, Lars is trying to find his. I think over the last bit they can both clean some things up, both of them, and I've challenged them to do that. But as the whole body of work goes, I think they've been effective."

Larsson has scored a goal and has two assists averaging 20:19 of ice time per game this season.

The No. 4 pick of the 2011 NHL Draft said Monday that his comfort level with the Oilers has developed quickly.

"I feel good and it's been a lot of fun," Larsson said. "Very good organization. Very good coaches. Just a good group of guys. I think you can get far with that."

He said he was ready for many new things after playing the first 274 regular-season games of his NHL career for the Devils.

"It's different coaches, different organization, so I got here a little bit early before the season to kind of get to know guys, players, coaches, people in the organization," Larsson said. "And the town, Edmonton. I looked at it like other seasons, that I just wanted to get better in the summertime and work hard at camp. It's all been good.

"[I'm happy] with my physicality and the defensive part of it. I think I can generate more offense but that will come. You always want to play strong defense. I'm playing with Oscar now and he likes to join the rushes. So I've been telling him all the time, 'Just go, I'll cover for you.' I think if we can have that trust in each other, it could be a good thing. But no, it's all positive for me."

The timing of the trade, June and not, say, January, made adjusting easier, Larsson said.

"I had some time to get here a little bit early and get settled," he said. "When you get traded in the middle of the season, you just have to go and if you have family, it's tough. But I'm all by myself so on the living part, it was very easy. At the same time, it's a different game out west. It's bigger. Maybe there's more speed in the east. So there are differences but I think I'm adjusting well.

"I thought [the trade] made me work even harder. I had a good summer. It was a turbulent summer, too, with the move and all that stuff. I haven't really looked back since the trade."

Talbot said that Larsson is low-key and low-maintenance, qualities that can go a long way with teammates.

"He's quiet," Talbot said. "He's got a quiet confidence about him. You don't even notice him in the room until he's out on the ice. He carries himself so well. He's not very outgoing but when you need him to be there, he's there.

"He goes about his job, does what he needs to do. He's a hard-worker in the gym and on the ice. He comes to the rink and he's ready to work every day and that's what you want from a guy like that."

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