The Edmonton Oilers have had “good” talks with pending UFA D Adam Larsson about a contract extension. Larsson, Edmonton’s lone shutdown defenseman, is expected to command a contract in the 3-4 year range with an AAV around the $4,000,000 mark.
Should Larsson’s deal get done, and with Ethan Bear and Evan Bouchard under contract, that makes it hard for the club to re-sign Tyson Barrie. Barrie, who signed a one-year deal with the Oilers in October, leads the NHL in points scored by a defenseman and in points scored by a free agent from the class of 2020 with 48 points (8 g, 40 a) in 55 games.
Re-signing Barrie gets even more complicated if Oscar Klefbom returns for the 2021-22 season, as many expect. With Klefbom back in the fold, Edmonton has their powerplay quarterback, and the need for Barrie shrinks.
While Barrie would like to stay in Edmonton, his contract demands are likely to have him in another city when training camps open in September. Barrie, according to TSN’s ‘Insider Trading’, is preparing to test the free agent market this July.
It’s also time to start talking about fellow Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie. He leads the National Hockey League in points among defensemen. He hit the reset button, he signed the one-year deal in Edmonton at $3.75 million. He needed to get his game back on track after a tough experience with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Well, he’s most definitely done that.
The sense is that Barrie is going to test the free-agent market. He’s earned that right and given everything that Ken Holland and the Oilers are going to have to go through with hefty negotiations with Larsson, Nugent-Hopkins, and others, you need to be able to compare apples to apples.
He would very much like to stay in Edmonton, but he also wants some stability. We’re talking about a five-or-six-year term, so most likely, he goes to the open market to see what the bigger picture looks like as well.
In addition to negotiations with Larsson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers will need to answer some major questions this summer. The club badly needs another top-six left winger, and could use the Barrie money to sign or trade for one.
The club also needs to figure out its plan in goal. Mike Smith is a pending free agent, while Mikko Koskinen has one season left on his contract with a $4,500,000 cap hit. Will they buy him out? Will they buy-out James Neal? Holland has a lot to figure out this off-season.
Barrie has been an outstanding add for the Oilers. He’s come in, run the powerplay in the absense of Klefbom, put up points and played on the top pairing. He’s earned the right to test market and cash in on his terrific season.
The best course of action for Edmonton would be to allow Barrie to test the market. The club cannot afford to tie themselves to long-term contracts for luxury players. Should Larsson re-sign, the Oilers could run a right side of Bear, Larsson and Bouchard next season, with Nurse, a healthy Klefbom and either Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, Kris Russell or Dmitry Kulikov as the third option.