“This is a really big year for me,” Larsen said. “I don’t have any plans on leaving this place.”
It’s a lofty goal for the 21-year-old from Denmark, especially when you consider that the Stars have seven NHL defenseman under one-way contracts already on the roster.
“I am going to do my best to be here because I want to be here. That’s my goal,” said Larsen, a fifth round pick in 2008. “You’ve got to prove that to the coaches.”
And head coach Glen Gulutzan said he expects Larsen to be one of the players that comes into camp and pushes for a job with the big club. And even if Larsen, one of the team’s top prospects on defense, doesn’t stick to start the season he is expected to see some NHL time over the course of the 2011-12 season.
The slick skating skilled Larsen is coming off a solid first season in the AHL, which was also his first full year in North America. He picked up 22 points (4 goals, 18 assists) and a plus-3 rating in 54 games with Gulutzan’s Texas Stars. He chipped in 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 6 Calder Cup Playoff games. He played 6 NHL games with Dallas as well, registering 2 assists and a plus-1 rating.
There were some bumps along the way. He was bothered by a hip injury last season and it forced him to miss some playing time. He played through it at other times.
“It was tough. You learn and get some experience from that,” Larsen said. “You just try to see the positive in everything, even if it is hard sometimes.”
He battled through the injury in the AHL playoffs and had surgery in the offseason. That meant a summer of rehab, but he said he put that to good use.
“If you want to see a positive I had the summer to get a little bit stronger,” he said. “I’ve been getting stronger this summer. I think that was important for me.”
He said since the surgery he’s added 14 pounds.
“I’m 190 pounds now,” he said. “That’s a lot better than the 176 after the playoffs.”
As for the hip, he said it feels great. 100 percent. He said he’ll be ready for training camp and ready to make his case to stick with the Dallas Stars.
“I’m just going to give it my best,” Larsen said, “and see how far it goes.”