The deadline for trades and signings prior to Wednesday’s expansion draft has come and gone, meaning teams are in a holding pattern until 1:00 pm eastern on Thursday afternoon unless they are making a trade with the Seattle Kraken. The Edmonton Oilers were quiet on Saturday, but one piece of business they didn’t complete stood out.
The Oilers did not re-sign defenseman Adam Larsson prior to the roster freeze, meaning the Seattle Kraken are now in position to speak to Larsson and offer him a contract. It also ensures that the Oilers will protect defensemen Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear and Duncan Keith.
Even though Seattle has a crack at Larsson now, the expectation from a well connected Oilers reporter is that the veteran Swede will eventually put pen to paper with his current team.
Mark Spector of Sportsnet had a detailed tweet on Saturday that felt more like informed speculation than anything.
Though deal is not done, Adam Larsson should come in at 4 x $3.9 M if/when he signs w/EDM. If he went to market, could probably push near Chris Tanev numbers ($4.5 M AAV). Suspect he’ll stay as a leader and core player in EDM though.
A $3,900,000 AAV would actually be a decrease on Larsson’s previous number of $4,166,667, which he signed with the New Jersey Devils prior to the 2015-16 season. The deal would also represent solid value on the cap considering the fact that Larsson will play a top-four role for at least the 2021-22 season.
Larsson is the club’s top, and really only, shutdown option at the NHL level. He’s also been seen as a logical choice to partner up with Keith, who was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks via trade on Monday.
Losing Larsson in free agency would create a massive hole on GM Ken Holland’s defense heading into a season where the veteran manager has admitted the “time is now” to compete. Getting this deal done is a very important part of the summer.
The Oilers aren’t the only team with an interest in signing Larsson. The Philadelphia Flyers have been largely connected to Larsson for weeks now, and were expected to make a big push for the Swede on July 28th. They are likely out of the running after today’s flurry of moves.
The Flyers acquired defenseman Ryan Ellis via trade from the Nashville Predators, and are expected to use him in the vacant top-four spot the club was eying Larsson for. Philadelphia was expected to be the most aggressive suitor on the open market, according to a source.
There are still other teams with interest, of course. The Toronto Maple Leafs will make a pitch to Larsson if he hits the open market. The Leafs had eyes on Larsson dating back to the 2019 NHL trade deadline, when Keith Gretzky was running the show for the Oilers.
The Boston Bruins, once seen as a possible suitor, are likely to look elsewhere. The Bruins are eying a more able puck handler, and are likely to focus on recently bought out options Keith Yandle and Ryan Suter.
Of course, no deal is done until the ink is dried. That being said, today’s specific report from Spector, who is well-connected, and Philadelphia filling their hole on defense clears the path for a Larsson return to Edmonton.
The Oilers, quite frankly, are a better team with Adam Larsson than without. It’s not a sexy move, but it’s one fans should be happy with if it comes to fruition. It also gives the Keith trade a bigger chance to be a success for the club.
The path appears to be clearing up for what was once seen as an inevitable reunion.