A new year, a new top five? Not necessarily, but that doesn’t mean recent events such as the CHL Top Prospects Game and the release of both Bob McKenzie’s and Central Scouting’s Mid-Term rankings hasn’t changed things further down the order.
1. New Jersey Devils- D Adam Larsson (Skelleftea/Elitserien)
Coaching changes are often like adrenaline shots, but in the case of the New Jersey Devils, you can't revive something that doesn't have a pulse. Under Jacques Lemaire's guidance- again- the Devils have seen their offensive stars begin to produce, but the wins haven't followed.
In the team's sights should be Adam Larsson. Although mercurial during the World Juniors- culminating in a dominant final game- Larsson has continued to be a defensive rock no matter the stage. Once a pantheon of defensive talent with Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and eventually Paul Martin carrying the torch, New Jersey's steady decline has stemmed from a shallow blueline. Larsson is the answer, and even if he never becomes a 60-point producer, he will nevertheless make a difference in the NHL for upwards of thirty minutes a night.