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 and the Oilers is not sure thing. These rumblings only grew louder over the weekend with first the Cult of Hockey’s Kurt Leavins reported the Oilers may now be looking at signing Tyson Barrie and not Larsson, then Frank Seravalli said the same on the Daily Face-off podcast.
As the OilersAccess account on Twitter put it: “Frank Seravalli says that at this point, the Oilers and Adam Larsson are unlikely to get something and Larsson will head to the market. He adds that Tyson Barrie has a real chance to stay in Edmonton.”
1. Losing Adam Larsson would represent a major setback for the Oilers, at least if Larsson is healthy. 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 season, Larsson has been the Oilers most efficient and reliable d-man at even strength, a real tower of power on the club. 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.
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.
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 over three years. If the Oilers were to lose Larsson, they will search for years for another just like him. Edmonton paid a high price to acquire the player 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?