The NHL’s trade deadline is less than a month away. Currently, the Edmonton Oilers sit firmly inside of a playoff spot in the highly-contested North Division. Barring something unforeseen, the club will not be selling off assets in the lead up to April 12th. If anything, GM Ken Holland will be adding a left winger with some size and skill or a left-shot defenseman capable of playing top-four minutes.
Although Holland isn’t likely to sell, he does have some players on his roster that he needs to make a decision on. Contract talks picked up earlier this week with veteran forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and will pick up next week with defensemen Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Thursday night that Holland will start “preliminary” discussions with both players and their representatives next week. To this point, there has been no contact with either player surrounding an extension.
An important thing that Dreger noted was that the Oilers “are okay if these negotiations drift into the off-season”. That means, barring a major collapse by the Oilers, they will not be sold off at the trade deadline.
What Does The Future Hold?
At this time last season, Adam Larsson’s future did not look like it included another contract with the Oilers. After a rocky start to this season, however, things have changed. Larsson has settled in nicely over the last 23 games and is playing a key shutdown role for the Oilers. In fact, he is playing some of the best hockey of his entire career.
According to a source, the Oilers aren’t likely to go long-term with Larsson. His style of play and his injury history make that a big risk for the team. What is more likely, according to the source, is a two-year deal around roughly $4,000,000 per season. That would keep Larsson around the same cap hit.
On the Barrie front, things are a little more complicated. Barrie will cost any team that signs him between now and next season at least $5,500,000 per season. That number may go up depending on if Barrie keeps lighting up the scoresheet with the Oilers.
If the Oilers re-sign Larsson, it’s hard to see where Barrie fits in next season. Ethan Bear is still signed at a value price and is a top-four defenseman in the NHL. Larsson is a top-four shutdown D, while rookie Evan Bouchard brings many of the same qualities that Barrie does at a reduced price.
Barrie has been outstanding for the Oilers, but if he is seeking a long-term, big money contract it doesn’t make sense to continue the relationship. If Barrie were willing to sign, say, a three-year deal worth $5,000,000 per? The Oilers almost certainly don’t even wait for the ink to dry. It’s hard to imagine Barrie taking that right now, however.
One thing in Barrie’s favor? The Oilers don’t have much coming on the right side of their defense. They currently have no NHL hopefuls at the position in AHL Bakersfield. Prospects Filip Berglund and Philip Kemp both played this season in Europe and will come to North America next season, but will need at least one season in the AHL.
College defenseman Michael Kesselring’s season at Northeastern just ended. There is interest from the Oilers to get him signed and in Bakersfield in the coming weeks. He, too, will need time to develop.