Good-bye to Adam Larsson? Say it ain’t so

Author of the article:

David Staples  •  Edmonton Journal

Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson celebrates a goal.
Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson celebrates a goal. Getty Images

Good-bye to Adam Larsson? Say it ain’t so.


There’s been rumblings all week from Bob Stauffer on Oilers New that a new contract between Larsson, 28, and the Oilers is no sure thing. These rumblings only grew louder over the weekend with first the Cult of Hockey’s Kurt Leavins reporting the Oilers may now be looking at signing Tyson Barrie and not Larsson. Wrote Leavins: “I do get mixed signals on the status of the (Larsson) negotiation. One source that would have an opportunity to speak with both sides in that negotiation thinks Larsson may in fact hit the UFA market, if for no other reason that to see which way the wind is blowing. When Philadelphia acquired Ryan Ellis on Saturday, I believe that subtracted Larsson’s most likely suitor from the equation. But there could be others, including Seattle. Edmonton is also still talking with Tyson Barrie. I wonder if in the event that Larsson walks, does Barrie sign here instead and fill that hole at 2RD? The price tag may not be much different.”


Next, US hockey writer Frank Seravalli said much the same on the Daily Face-off podcast.

Said Seravalli: “My understanding is that the Oilers and Adam Larsson are rather unlikely at this point to get something done and that he’ll be heading to market. Now, I think the development which is really interesting is that Tyson Barrie has a real chance to stay in Edmonton. That’s been the the sort of shift that’s occurred over the last four or five days.”

My take

1. Losing Adam Larsson would represent a major setback for the Oilers. For the last five seasons, 2016-17 to 2020-21, Larsson has posted three of the five best seasons we’ve seen from an Oilers d-man when it comes to creating and defending against Grade A chances at even strength. The pairing of Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell aced it in that regard in the 2016-17 season, before Sekera got hurt. But for the past two seasons, Larsson has been the Oilers most efficient and reliable d-man at even strength, a tower of power on the blueline. He’s not Bobby Orr with the puck, but he can move it well enough. When it comes to the defensive end, he’s almost always in position and he almost always makes the play. He also brings a nasty edge to his play, something Edmonton has in no great quantity.


2. If the right side of the Oil’s defence is Tyson Barrie and Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear, that group will be strong moving the puck, but who will shut down the top attackers on opposing teams? That was Larsson’s job, he did it well, but I can’t see Barrie, Bouchard or Bear coming close to having his same level of success.

3. Dmitry Samorukov, a lefty who plays the right side, was a strong shut-down d-man on CSKA in Moscow this year. He’s big, nasty and he can skate. He may well be an option as a solid shut-down d-man in coming years, but I can’t see him replacing Larsson either. If he doesn’t need another year in Bakersfield, Samorukov likely needs a year on the third-pairing in Edmonton. He looks like a player, but throwing him into the Top 4 this year isn’t well advised.


4. At the Cult of Hockey, we not only keep track of how many major mistakes a d-man makes on Grade A shots, we track exactly what kind of mistake he made. The most common are things like lost battles and missed assignments. But we also keep track of the egregious mental errors that can sink a team, such as turnovers, bad pinches, allowing breakaways and bad line changes. In this category, Larsson and Kris Russell have made the fewest number of bad mistakes the past two seasons — and it’s not close. This year Caleb Jones and Tyson Barrie made the most. Last year it was Ethan Bear and Joel Persson.

5. I value Larsson more than most Oilers fans. What would be my maximum offer to keep him? $5.5 million per year over three years. If the Oilers were to lose Larsson they will search for years for another player just like him.


6. Edmonton paid a high price to acquire Larsson from New Jersey, giving up Taylor Hall. In three out of five seasons, when Larsson has been healthy, he’s delivered big time at even strength. I’d be fine with seeing Edmonton paying a high price to keep him. You?

7. If the Oilers go with Barrie over Larsson, this is a smaller, less physical defence. The puck will move faster but it’s hard to see how this shift will make the team better. The Oilers coaches do their own scoring chance evaluation of the team, much like what we do here at the Cult of Hockey. If their results are anything like our results, they will know the value of this player. Hard to imagine that the Oilers will let him slip through their fingers. It would represent a major loss.


P.S. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug had this to add about Larsson on Twitter: “On Adam Larsson, the simple fact is, the player hasn’t decided what he wants to do yet, and it could go either way. He is considering a few offers they feel are fair from the Oilers on different lengths, but he is taking his time, wanting to make a good decision for his future… Taking this much time leads to the perception that he’s likely leaving, but am told that at this point the Oilers are still a very strong option for him. My sense is the team is willing to be patient to a point, while he makes this decision… Larsson is methodical, and has been working on his own timeline through this process, not wanting to rush an important decision. The Oilers have the offers there for him, he’s in the process of deciding if he wants to stay, or go see what’s out there. Could still go either way.”

At the Cult

McCURDY: Digging into Edmonton’s protected list

LEAVINS: Oilers make final plans for expansion — 9 Things

STAPLES: Edmonton Oilers stand pat on the eve of expansion

McCURDY: Last minute, pre-expansion Oilers roster musings

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