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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Getting the Ink Done

While contracts are never final until the ink is done and the paperwork is filed, I’ve got no doubt the Edmonton Oilers and pending UFA defenceman Adam Larsson will take care of that bit of business in relatively short order – as in right after the NHL’s expansion draft is done.

That’s not Edmonton Oilers’ GM Ken Holland or Larsson’s agent J.P. Barry talking. That’s just my read of the situation based on what TSN Insider Darren Dreger said today with the deadline for teams to declare protected lists for the expansion draft on Saturday looming. Larsson wants to be here. Holland wants him here. The ink as a formality.

From Dreger this morning: “If you get Larsson extended, which they will, now your top four is going to be Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse as your top pairing, and you’ve got (Duncan) Keith as probably a 3-4 guy.” Here’s the interview.

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While the Seattle Kraken have a window to talk to Larsson as a UFA and could draft him if he’s unsigned and unprotected, it won’t matter. Yes, we’re told the sides continue to work on trying to get the details done, but Dreger’s “which they will” is the real tell for me that the framework of a new deal is already in place.

WHAT’S THE DEAL?

Dec 18, 2019; St. Louis, MO, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) looks on during the second period against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not suggesting Holland and Barry have a nudge-nudge, wink-wink agreement in place that will allow them to tip-toe around the expansion draft — NHL head office would surely frown on that — but I’d bet the house they’ll manage to get the ink done. Just dot an I here and cross a T there when the draft is done, it’s all kosher, no? We could see the same thing with @Taylor Hall in Boston and @Jamie Oleksiak in Dallas. Details, after all, can take time.

“No, I’m not pretty confident but I’m not not confident,” Holland said this week about signing Larsson. “I’ve talked lots to J.P. Barry and last week Dave Tippett and myself got on a call with J.P. and Adam and his Swedish agent Peter Warner and told him how we want him back and how important he is to the team.”

Holland insisted the acquisition of Keith, who carries a $5.5 million AAV, won’t interfere with his attempts to close the deal with Barry and Larsson. The perceived possibility the Oilers could lose Larsson because of the Keith trade has been no small source of consternation for a segment of the fan base in the last 48 hours.

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“I’ve been in negotiations with Adam,” Holland told reporters after the trade for Keith was complete. “I’d like to sign Adam. I’ve got money set aside for Adam. Ultimately, it’s Adam’s decision. When a player is an unrestricted free agent, they’ve earned the right to determine where they want to play and how much they want to play for. It has no impact because we do have cap space available.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Jan 20, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) battles for position with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds (24) in front of goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) in the first period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

I’m expecting the sides to agree on a four-year deal – Barry and Larsson could push for five years because they do have options – at something in the range of $3.75 million to $4.25 million a season that’ll be announced shortly after the expansion draft next Wednesday.

After struggling at times for a couple of seasons, Larsson was very good this season. Larsson is exactly the tough, physical shutdown defender Holland’s blueline mix needs back in the fold. I can see Larsson playing in the second pairing on the right side with Keith on the left.  That’s assuming, of course, the ink gets done. Sure.

Previously by Robin Brownlee