According to a report by The Fourth Period, the Edmonton Oilers and pending UFA defenceman Adam Larsson have yet to have any conversations about the player staying with the team beyond this season. While Larsson is playing some of his better hockey since his first season with the club, there are a few reasons this could be.
The report notes:
A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to TFP on Monday that the Oilers have yet to reach out to Adam Larsson’s camp about a new contract and there are no talks are currently planned.
It is interesting that neither side hasn’t broached the idea of a new deal. Larsson is in the final year of a six-year, $25 million contract and while he’s not necessarily been everything the Oilers would have hoped he’d be when they sent Taylor Hall to New Jersey to acquire him, he’s been one of Edmonton’s more reliable stay-at-home defenders.
This season, he’s been extremely dependable and if the Oilers could convince him to stay for a slight discount over the $4.16 million he makes this season, an argument could be made to keep him around.
Why The Hold Up?
First, the expansion draft will play a role in any talks. If Larsson is signed prior to the season, the Oilers would have to consider protecting him. Whereas, if he’s a free agent at the time of the draft, Edmonton can revisit talks of a new deal once Seattle makes all their selections.
Second, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ pending new deal is taking a priority. While the Oilers haven’t talked to Nuge since before the start of the season, it is clear the Oilers would like him to stay if a deal can be done for the less than $7 million per season. The problem is, the Oilers don’t know what Nugent-Hopkins will ask for and there’s a chance he could seek top-six playing time as a center elsewhere if there’s money to be made from another team.
Third, the young players on the Oilers blue line have given GM Ken Holland a reason to hold off on any commitments to veteran players like Larsson. If there’s a belief players like Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson or Caleb Jones can play a regular role, the need to retain Larsson goes down.
Finally, the unknown status of Tyson Barrie and Oscar Klefbom means the Oilers are best to wait. If Barrie is considering an extension and continues on with his red-hot play, it could cost the Oilers a pretty penny to retain him. Meanwhile, if Klefbom’s injury is far worse than expected, the changes the outlook of how the Oilers shape their blue line next season.