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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Should the Oilers trade Adam Larsson?

Welcome, Internet friends, to a long weekend edition of the Monday Mailbag! Once again, it’s that magical time of the week when you have all the things you’ve always wanted to know about the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers, and about life in general. In fact, I like to think of us as a much cheaper alternative to a college education. As always, the mailbag depends on your questions so I need you to send me anything you want to know. If you have an Oilers or life question that needs answering, you can always email me, or DM me on Twitter. Enjoy.

Feb 26, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) protects the puck from Edmonton Oilers right wing Patrick Russell (52) during the third period at T-Mobile Arena.

1) Taylor asks – Ken Holland has already re-signed a few of his bottom-six guys (Nygard, Russell, Haas) and I’m wondering if anyone is surprised by how many of the same forwards will be returning? I thought we might see more new faces in the bottom six, especially.

Jason Gregor:

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Nygard and Haas were NHL rookies last year and they improved, in my eyes, as the season progressed. They know the system. They both have good speed. Nygard is very good on the forecheck, while Haas is smart, has sneaky offensive skills and they plan to use him on the PK. Also, both were inexpensive. The Oilers view them as players who can do more next season. I see Haas getting a look as the 3C. There aren’t many right shot third line centres available so promoting from within makes sense as the Oilers don’t have much cap space to overpay for a free agent.

Russell is a depth signing. He is a 13th or 14th forward signed for the league minimum. Russell gives you his best effort every night, can kill penalties and his dogged work ethic can annoy the opposition. I see re-signing him as the organization knowing exactly what they have and rather than sign a 13th or 14th forward UFA that you don’t know this is likely the safer bet.

Robin Brownlee:

Is there somebody in that group you would not have re-signed? Having depth players under contract doesn’t preclude change. Won’t be surprised if Holland still looks to address 3C.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’m not overly surprised simply because a lot of those guys had really solid seasons. As Nygard and Haas got more comfortable, they continued to look more effective. Also, you could tell that Dave Tippett really trusts Patrick Russell. I think there will be some changes, but they will come in the form of a trade. I think guys like Alex Chiasson and Jujhar Khaira could be moved out to make room for some of the guys that have already resigned.

Nation Dan:

I kind of like that there is some commonality in the bottom six. I know that most of that is due to the fact that we have a cap crunch to deal with and you might as well stick with the solid parts you know versus trying to make more gambles.

Zach Laing:

As I wrote about yesterday, I’m a bit surprised to see Russell re-signed. He didn’t do enough to really wow me. Tippett is a fan of his game so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by it. Nygard and Haas signings are solid. I think he’ll still bring in two to three bodies from outside the organization to compete.

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Baggedmilk:

Obviously, we’d all like to see more upgrades to the lineup but Ken Holland has done a good job of filling out the bottom six with cheap players that can compete. Now, will that pay off next season? We’ll have to wait and see, but I honestly don’t mind the approach. To me, the defence is the greater area of concern.

2) Brent asks – Are there any realistic free agent options you’d like to see Ken Holland go after or do you think the best approach would be to stay quiet given the limited cap space available?

Jason Gregor:

If he trades Adam Larsson, then I’d look at Tyson Barrie. The flat cap will make it difficult for the Oilers to get into a bidding war for any free agent. And that is likely a good thing, as I’ve long felt long term UFA deals rarely work out. A short term is better and I suspect there will be veterans available for a lower salary and shorter term in late October.

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Robin Brownlee:

Oilers still need a goaltender and that could come through free agency. Those names have been batted around for weeks — Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss,etc.If Thatcher Demko is going to be No. 1 in Vancouver, can the Oilers afford to pitch for Jacob Markstrom? I doubt it, but money gets moved around quickly sometimes. That goes for all positions if teams deem a player “must-have.”

Tyler Yaremchuk:

It really depends on how much cap space he can move out via trade. I would be very interested in signing a third-line centre like Erik Haula or maybe a d-man like Sami Vatanen, but Holland will have to move out a pricey veteran or two if he wants to make a substantial splash.

Nation Dan:

It’s all about the goalies for me. Mikko needs a 1b/1a option depending on the talent and I think Ken can go and find him via trade. That failing, I hope a guy like Khudobin gets the call.

Zach Laing:

There’s more to come on this through a UFA series Cam Lewis and I are working on but here’s a few names that jump out at me early on: Tyler Ennis, Dylan DeMelo and Erik Haula.

Baggedmilk:

I think Erik Haula would be a nice fit at 3C. Thomas Greiss has also been linked to the Oilers as an option in net so I’m kinda expecting that one to go through as well.

3) John asks – With Darryl Nurse being two years away from free agency and the belief that he’ll want a long term contract in excess of $7M per year is now the best time to maximize his trade value?

Jason Gregor:

He hasn’t even started his new contract and people are already worried about his next one? Seriously. Who cares what a player wants. It is about what he will sign for, and a lot can happen in two years. I’m not trading a player now because of a “what if” scenario two years down the road.

Robin Brownlee:

Maybe. What’s the return? I think the Oilers can move Nurse or Klefbom (I wouldn’t do it because his contract is reasonable), but not both.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

If you don’t think he’s going to be worth the $6-7 million contract he will command as an unrestricted free agent, or you think you won’t be able to afford it, then I think you need to seriously consider moving him now. He’s coming off a solid season and the fact he has two more years under contract will make him a very valuable trade chip. At the same time, you could move him next summer as well when he only has a year left on his deal and probably still get some good value for him.

Nation Dan:

If you’re looking at not resigning him, the iron is always hottest further out. If you think he’s going to be close to what he’s worth at that kind of a number when he is walking away, maybe we need to accept that and instead of trading him, use him as a part of a successful team and then wish him the best.

Zach Laing:

It very well could be. Darnell Nurse is a good top-four NHL defenceman and his $5.6-million he’s set to make is about as much as I would pay him long-term. If he wants to command $7-million on the open market when his contract is up, he needs to really hone in on fixing his defensive game. I’m more inclined to keep him than deal him unless you’re getting a homerun top-six scoring winger in return.

Baggedmilk:

I wouldn’t trade him this year unless the return is a scoring winger that’s signed to a long-term contract. Outside of that, I’m not moving Darryl quite yet. Let’s talk about this question a year from now because I assume he’ll still be here.

4) Randeep asks – I read that Adam Larsson is on the TSN Trade Bait Board and I was wondering why that might be? The Oilers are much deeper on the left-side than the right and I’d like to know why he might be on there as opposed to Kris Russell, Darnell Nurse, or Oscar Klefbom? Is there something I’m missing?

Jason Gregor:

Russell is in his 30s with a $4m cap hit. Harder to trade him. Larsson’s name is there because teams will be interested and Edmonton needs to change the makeup of their blueline. Also, it is just a list. It doesn’t mean the other can’t be traded. It is just going off who is most likely to be dealt. Klefbom and Nurse would be sought after as well, but Larsson’s name has come up more in the rumour.

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Robin Brownlee:

He has value because teams know what they’re going to get with him. He doesn’t rely on offensive production to be effective. When he’s at his best he can play in the second pairing of most teams in the league.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think because of the fact he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and his contract will be much easier to move than Kris Russell’s. Those are probably the only two reasons that he’s on the board over any of the Oilers’ other defensemen. I think it’s far from a guarantee that the Oilers move him this offseason.

Nation Dan:

I really don’t get it myself. If we remove Larsson without a replacement player on the RD, we are immediately needing to replace him OR asking our rookies to do more than they need to be doing. Just doesn’t make sense right now unless the deal blows you out of the water.

Zach Laing:

Adam Larsson is a one-dimensional defensive defenceman heading into a contract year. It’s unlikely that the Oilers re-sign him when his deal is up. While there’s lots of appetite for a rearguard like Larsson, Edmonton has someone who can play the defensive game as well as he can in Matt Benning who makes less on the cap. Edmonton needs more puck mobility from their right-side and Larsson just can’t do that.

Baggedmilk:

I could see them trading Adam Larsson because of the back issues he’s reportedly suffering with. I like Larsson quite a bit as a player, but if his body is giving out on him then the Oilers might do well for themselves to find a dance partner and recoup some assets.

July 28, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA; A general view of Rogers Place is seen before an exhibition game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on July 28, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. Mandatory Credit: Andy Devlin/NHLI via USA TODAY Sports

5) Chase asks – Still plenty of time left to go in the NHL playoffs, but who is your postseason MVP so far?

Jason Gregor:

Nathan MacKinnon in the west and Brayden Point in the east.

Robin Brownlee:

I sure like Miro Heiskanen for Dallas and Robin Lehner already has three shutouts for Vegas and was the difference against Vancouver. Those are my two leaders right now.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Out West, the best candidates are Miro Heiskanen and Nathan MacKinnon. In the East, I would say Brayden Point has to be the favourite. He’s scored some big goals for the Lightning.

Nation Dan:

Aside from the obvious (MacKinnon/Point). If Vancouver had been able to move on with that kind of consistent effort from Thatcher Demko, I don’t know if we wouldn’t be hearing his name at the end of this thing. That was a special short stint for the kid.

Zach Laing:

It has to be Nathan MacKinnon so far, right? Nine goals and 25 points in 14 games is unreal production. Miro Heiskanen is not far behind, however with 19 points in 15 games on the backend. Both are playing lights out. (***BM note re: points – answer submitted Friday morning***)

Baggedmilk:

For me, it has to be Nathan MacKinnon. The dude is so much fun to watch and an absolute unit on the ice.

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