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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

What Will Larsson Contract Look Like?

Adam Larsson’s value to the team often gets overlooked. Defensemen with more defensive zone starts, more matchups against skilled forwards, lots of penalty killing time and not much offensive production are much more valuable to the team’s success, especially in the playoffs, than they get credit for.

However, in the NHL, D-men who produce points often get larger contracts. So what is a realistic contract for Adam Larsson?

I’d argue Larsson might be a bigger priority than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins because the Oilers don’t have any right D-men on the roster who can play his role, and none in the system. And there are fewer veteran, defensive right-shot defensemen available in free agency compared to scoring left wingers.

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Looking at recent contracts of similar style defensemen, there seems to be fairly consistent price point and salary length associated with defensemen with Larsson’s skill set. Stats via Naturalstattrick.com.

Player GP TOI TOI/GP CF% FF% SF% GF% xGF% SCF% HDCF% PDO OZone St Dzone St Signed
TJ Brodie 199 3520:16 17:41 52.9 52.4 52.1 58.3 53.38 53.58 52.93 1.022 546 550 4 yr, $5m, 2020/2021
Brenden Dillon 207 3412:27 16:29 53.5 53.7 53.7 53.2 54.72 53.77 53.96 0.998 445 410 4 yr, $3.9m, 2020/2021
Adam Larsson 187 3335:19 17:50 48.1 48.9 48 41.3 47.97 47.03 48.86 0.979 325 556 UFA
Ben Chiarot 188 3326:04 17:41 51.5 50.8 51.2 47.8 50.27 51.1 51.49 0.99 430 405 3yr, $3.5M, 2019/2020
Joel Edmundson 187 3025:42 16:10 51.8 51.4 51.3 54.5 49.97 51.04 49.71 1.01 397 440 4yr, $3.5M, 2020/2021
Christopher Tanev 180 2903:43 16:07 48.7 50.2 49.6 51.6 50.84 48.53 51.43 1.007 422 521 4 yr, $4.5m, 2020/2021
Travis Hamonic 157 2689:21 17:07 50.5 50.2 49.3 48.2 50.44 49.66 51.12 0.996 383 355 UFA

Joel Edmundson and Ben Chiarot come in at the low-end at $3.5m, while TJ Brodie is the highest at $5m. I included Brodie and Chiarot, even though they shoot left, simply to have more comparables. They play similar roles as Larsson and four of the contracts were signed when teams were aware of the flat cap.

Now let’s look at who these players have played against over the past three seasons courtesy of Puckiq.com.The three tiers are split into facing elite forwards, middle ground forwards and then grinders and energy players.

Player TOI Elite Middle Grit
Tanev 2903 43.3% 30.1% 26.6%
Chiarot 3326 38.6% 31.9% 29.5%
Edmundson 3025 38.5% 31.1% 30.4%
Brodie 3520 38.5% 32.1% 29.4%
Hamonic 2689 35.2% 33.1% 31.7%
Larsson 3326 34.4% 34.4% 31.2%
Dillon 3412 30.4% 36.4% 33.2%

Tanev has faced the most elite by almost 5% more than anyone. Brodie to Larsson played between 70.6%-68.8% of their time against elite or middle players, while Dillon was the lowest at 66.4%. These players aren’t looked to provide a lot of offence, but Brodie’s 34 points in 2019 likely is why he got the bump up to $5m. Here are their point totals over the past three seasons.

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Player TOI G-A-PTS
Brodie 3520 14-53-67
Dillon 3412 4-51-55
Chiarot 3326 15-33-48
Tanev 2903 6–38-44
Edmundson 3025 12-32-44
Hamonic 2689 13-28-41
Larsson 3326 8–28-36

The past two seasons, however, they are all very close in offensive production, except for Larsson. Brodie was at 0.28 points/game, Edmundson (0.27), Tanev and Dillon (0.26), Hamonic and Chiarot (0.25) while Larsson came in at 0.15. Brodie did have four PP points, while the rest had one or none.

Chiarot and Edmundson signed when they were 27 and had just over 300 games played, while Dillon was 29 with 600 games played, Brodie was 30 with 644 GP and Tanev 31 with 525 GP.

Larsson turns 29 in November and he’s played 603 games, while Hamonic turns 31 in August and has played 675 games. Both the UFAs have wear and tear on them at the time of their signing. Will that play a small role? Potentially, but I still think Larsson will command a contract that comes in around $4m/season.

And considering none of these D-men got more than four years, the term seems fairly straight forward.

This negotiation seems more straight forward than Nugent-Hopkins’ and I think it is important the Oilers get him signed before July 18th. That is when Seattle’s window to negotiate with free agent begins. From 8 a.m. on July 18th to 8 a.m. MT on July 21st the Kraken can talk to all UFAs.

Edmonton needs Larsson on their blueline. And I think a four-year deal is realistic with an AAV between $3.9m-$4.1m. I see him signing a four-year deal with a $4m AAV.

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What term and AAV would you sign him for?

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