Monday Mailbag – The Adam Larsson Hole

Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
2 years ago
I hope everyone had an excellent weekend because it’s time to get back to work with a brand new Mailbag! This week, we’re looking at Adam Larsson walking for Seattle, Zach Hyman’s rumoured contract, Xavier Bourgault, and more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
1) Brian asks – What does Ken Holland have to do with the remainder of this offseason for you to deem it a success?
Jason Gregor:
Needs to sign a RD, also another third pair LD and two top-nine forwards. That is the best-case scenario. Easier said than done.
Robin Brownlee:
Assuming we get the announcement to make the Hyman deal official Wednesday, Holland still needs some help on the right side of the blueline, probably another forward and to get his goaltending sorted — Mike and Smith and Koskinen or Smith and somebody else? I wonder if he circles back on Jujhar Khaira at a lower number for the bottom six.
They need to get more depth up front with players that can actually chip in with some offence, a new goalie to partner with Mike Smith, and someone to fill the Adam Larsson hole… that won’t be easy.
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
2) Adam asks – What is everyone’s take on why Adam Larsson chose to leave the Oilers for an expansion team? Unless he hated his time here then I don’t really understand.
Jason Gregor:
A personal decision. I believe his father dying in Edmonton played a factor and he just wanted a change. The main surprise to me is that he signed in Seattle rather than test the free agent market. That is perplexing because he could have waited one week and heard from the other 30 teams.
Robin Brownlee:
Don’t care to speculate on that. It was Larsson’s call to make and the reasons for it are up to him to discuss, if he’s so inclined.
I have no idea why Larsson chose to leave but it is certainly something the Oilers need to figure out because it’s not exactly a good look for them that a core member walked away to sign with an expansion team. They’ll need to look in the mirror on this one.
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
3) Ed asks – I forget the exact words, but at the year-end zoom conference, I recall Larsson saying something to the effect that he “loved” the team and the city and wants to stay. Obviously, this wasn’t the case as he went to Seattle for the same contract as he could have gotten here. So my question is what is the point of player availabilities? Players are smart enough to know what the politically correct response is and that is what we get.
Jason Gregor:
Maybe he did love the team and city, but couldn’t get over the loss of his father in Edmonton and the fact his mother had only visited once since. He was clearly torn in his decision. It wasn’t an easy decision. Life isn’t static. Things change. He had just lost a series where the team had played well, but couldn’t win. At that moment I believe he meant what he said. Two months later after some time to think and analyze every situation, he changed his mind. He is allowed to do it. I wouldn’t take it personally.
Robin Brownlee:
It’s not obvious that wasn’t the case at the time Larsson said it at all. We don’t know what changed Larsson’s mind or when that change occurred. I’m guessing he and his agent didn’t negotiate with Holland over several months just for the sake of appearance. What was Seattle’s pitch beyond the term and dollars? We don’t know. At some point, maybe Larsson will talk about it.
Obviously, Larsson wanted a change of scenery and that was his right to do as a UFA. I wish him the best but certainly wish he would have stayed because the Oilers will desperately miss him.
Feb 20, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Zach Hyman (11) plays the puck against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
4) Kevin asks – Assuming the reports are true, I’m confused about why the Oilers would feel the need to go 7 or 8 years with Zach Hyman? With a career-high of 21 goals and 41 points, why do this length on a 29-year-old forward?
Jason Gregor:
Need to look at more than career highs. Hyman’s career high of 21 goals and 41 points came in 2019. In 2020 he had 21 goals and 37 points in 51 games. Last season he had 15 goals and 33 points in 43 games. He had a much higher goals and points/game the past two years, so they factored in.
No question it is a risk in the long term. But Edmonton has a four-year window to become competitive in the playoffs, and I sense that is their focus. They aren’t worrying about years seven and eight right now. That is a concern, and it is fair to disagree with the long-term ramifications, but Holland’s plan is four years. We’ll see if it works out. Hyman should be productive for four years, but no question there is a concern with the term and his recent injury history.
Free agency is where teams usually overpay, especially on term. Short term is best way to go, but most don’t.
Robin Brownlee:
Longer term, lower AAV. Simple as that.
It’s absolutely going to be a risk and likely even a contract we complain about in the future, but here in the short term, the Oilers need more guys that can score and Hyman can do that. He will make this team better this year so I’m not going to worry too much about what happens down the line… at least, not yet anyway.

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5) Anthony asks – First thoughts on trading down from 20 to 22 to select Xavier Bourgault from the QMJHL?
Jason Gregor:
I don’t get too fired up about players I’ve never seen. I spoke to numerous different scouts and they had varying reports on Jesper Wallstedt. Some really liked him, while others are concerned if he is athletic enough to play in the NHL’s east-west approach. Obviously, Edmonton didn’t feel he was a clear upgrade over the goalie they have. Time will tell if they are correct.
So in that sense trading down to acquire Bourgault and Luca Munzenberger make sense as they now have two prospects and better odds one will play in the NHL. I did not watch one game of Bourgault, and scouting reports on him were also mixed. When I say mixed, I mean in the sense of if he can be a top six or more of a bottom six player. I don’t have enough information for me to make a personal assessment of a player as I never saw him play. I will watch him closely this coming season and make my assessment then.
Robin Brownlee:
My guess is Sebastian Cossa was the goaltender they wanted if they were going to take one and they didn’t feel as strongly about Jesper Wallstedt, so they made the move down.
Watching some highlights on him over the weekend, Bourgault seems like he’s got some wheels and touch and the Oilers need more skilled forwards on their depth chart. We shall see.


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