What a difference a year makes. After earning his way onto the top unit last season for the last place Buffalo Sabres posting 6 goals and 10 assists in only 39 games played. He was the only forward to post a plus rating in the historically bad "tank" season.
Now 24 games into the season, Larsson has found himself as a healthy scratch and on the naughty list of his new head coach Dan Bylsma. Here is exactly what Bylsma had to say about Larsson's start to the season.
Larsson has played with every line combination possible this season and has 3 points to show for it in 21 games. He has a -3 rating and has 6 giveaways. His shot has been poor and he is simply a liability to his line mates.
According to the statistics department at hockeyanalysis.com, Larsson's line allows 2.240 goals for every 60 minutes of ice time. When Larsson is not playing with his former line mates, those players allow only 1.79 goals for every 60 minutes.
A lot of that has to do with the giveaways and lack of vision Larsson has dealt with on the ice.
As I said earlier, Larsson's shots are not getting to the net. His individual Corsi per 60 minutes is at a 9.65 which is much worse than last year when he had a 8.46.
Larsson is a shifty forward that has good hockey smarts, the inconsistency however is something that has hurt the Sabres early on this season. His shot selection has been poor and I seems he is too safe with the puck in order to avoid making a mistake.
A player struggles when they play to not make mistakes. Take risks. Larsson is averaging 4 shots per 60 minutes.
Hopefully Larsson being scratched can be the wake up call he needs.
However with Tim Schaller filling in nicely and Tyler Ennis returning from injury soon, is it time to trade Larsson for a valuable defenseman?
Another team could see the value of giving Larsson a chance. He is only 23 years old and could fill in nicely on a third line.
Whether he wants to believe it or not, Larsson is a third line player that can be a versatile forward for a deep team. However he has had the attitude that he is entitled to a top 6 winger role but he hasn't earned it.
Hence why he is scratched.
Buffalo may want to give him a few more shots before trading Johan Larsson, however with Hudson Fasching, Justin Bailey, and Nick Baptiste all candidates for role next season, I wouldn't object to trading Larsson.
Perhaps a deep defensive team such as St. Louis, Nashville, New York, or even Anaheim would make a trade to boost their offense. The Ducks could certainly use another forward to pick up the scoring woes.
Surely Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray will discuss their options with Johan Larsson in the future. It isn't panic time yet but with the Sabres depth at forward and need for defenders, Larsson could be a great trading chip.