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Is Adam Larsson Going To Test Free Agency?

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The Duncan Keith deal puts a wrinkle in Edmonton’s expansion list and could push Adam Larsson one step closer to unrestricted free agency

Edmonton Oilers v Winnipeg Jets - Game Three Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The Duncan Keith deal happened today. Wow, what a lot of fun that was.

No matter what you may think of the Duncan Keith deal, he comes with a NMC that must be honoured for the upcoming expansion draft.

The Oilers have expressed that they plan on using a 7-3-1 expansion setup. That means that they plan on protecting seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goaltender. Now with Caleb Jones off the roster, the Oilers will need to tweak their strategy going into this weekend.

Which three defencemen are they going to protect? Remember, one of them has to be newly acquired Duncan Keith. That leaves two spaces on defence left. You probably snapped your fingers and thought “Nurse and Bear”, which are the correct answers.

Prior to acquiring Duncan Keith, there was at least a ghost of a chance that the club was going to hammer out a deal and protect Adam Larsson. That’s probably not going to happen (at least, not yet) after Keith’s arrival. I’m fairly certain that the Oilers aren’t going to expose Ethan Bear and I’m five thousand percent sure that they’re not going to expose Darnell Nurse.

A signed Adam Larsson (after the expansion draft, but before the first day of free agency) will likely play second pair minutes along with Duncan Keith as Evan Bouchard begins to get full time minutes in Edmonton. If Larsson elects not to sign with the Oilers and wants to test the waters in free agency, there’s always the chance that he circles back to Edmonton and signs that three or four year deal that we’ve seen being talked about. There’s also a chance he ends up in Philadelphia’s opening night lineup.

The Oilers could change their expansion protection list to 8 skaters and one goaltender, which would allow the Oilers to sign Larsson and protect him from the expansion draft. This isn’t advisable, as the Oilers would fall one short of protecting all of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujärvi and Kailer Yamamoto.

The Oilers will try to go into overdrive to get a deal done between the expansion draft on the 17th and the first day of free agency on the 28th.

We wait.