Oilers News & Rumors: Neal, Keith, Larsson, Barrie, NHL Expansion Draft

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there is talk that James Neal is among the leading candidates for a buyout in the NHL this offseason. Meanwhile, there are updates on the trade chatter surrounding Duncan Keith possibly heading to Edmonton. Some are wondering what the delay in the Adam Larsson deal might be and is there really a chance Tyson Barrie circles back to the Oilers and the team is interested? Finally, how does all of this affect the Oilers heading into the NHL Expansion Draft?

James Neal a Top Buyout Candidate

According to Frank Servalli of The Daily Faceoff, Neal ranks second on his Top 10 list of potential buyout candidates this offseason. Also listing Mikko Koskinen as someone the Oilers might consider moving on from in a similar fashion, Neal makes more sense because of how little he played versus his cap hit.

James Neal Edmonton Oilers
James Neal, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Seravalli writes:

Oilers GM Ken Holland indicated he could buyout one, if not two players this summer and Neal rises to the top of the list. He was a healthy scratch for a large chunk of the season after struggling to regain form from an early season COVID-19-related illness. Neal finished with 10 points in 29 games. A buyout would leave Edmonton with a $1.92 million dead cap charge for the next four seasons, representing just shy of a $4 million savings in each of the next two campaigns.

Duncan Keith Deal Before of After Expansion Draft?

There are questions (a lot of them) when it comes to what’s going on behind the scenes with the trade talks surrounding Keith, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Oilers. From what I can gather, the Oilers don’t want to give up too much and absorb all of Keith’s $5.53 million salary for the next two seasons. The Blackhawks don’t want to retain salary because they would like to go after a bigger fish like Seth Jones or Dougie Hamilton. Both sides know that there are few options as Keith controls where he goes with his no-move clause.

What’s interesting is whether or not the two sides focus on getting this deal done before or after the NHL Expansion Draft. If Caleb Jones is part of the deal, — and if the Oilers were going to protect Jones — it’s not as massive a factor for Edmonton. If Jones was not part of the deal, acquiring Keith creates a potential issue if the Oilers think Keith could be selected by the Seattle Kraken. If so, GM Ken Holland can’t afford to give away many assets knowing he did so with nothing to show for it.

Delay on Adam Larsson’s Extension

Another interesting player to watch is Larsson and how his deal unfolds with the Oilers, if one gets done. The latest news seems to be that Larsson wants a bit more time to make up his mind. This isn’t a huge concern for the Oilers if they know Larsson is inevitably going to sign because that can happen after the expansion draft. That said, if there is any concern Larsson might be contemplating his value on the open market and wants to see what he’s offered, this could be problematic for GM Ken Holland.

Edmonton Oilers Adam Larsson
Edmonton Oilers’ Adam Larsson (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Most insiders seemed to have this deal between the two sides pegged as a given. But, if Larsson wants a bit more, how much is too much for the Oilers to pay? If a team like the Philadelphia Flyers step up and are willing to offer more, or if Seattle makes a play in their limited window to talk with free agents, is Edmonton ready to let Larsson walk away? The Oilers don’t have another defenseman who can assume the same kind of role Larsson does. He’s easily the team’s premier shutdown defender.

The good news is, according to agent J.P. Barry via The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, the two sides are still working towards a new contract and things are amicable. The scribe quotes Barry when he writes:

“We’re making progress on a contract. Sometimes teams like to move quicker than players. He’s just thinking about everything. We’re getting there. There are a few things we can still discuss. We’d like to get some term. He’s a pretty young free agent defenseman.”

source – ‘What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason: The latest on Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom, Kraken plans and more’ – Daniel-Nugent-Bowman – The Athletic – 07/01/2021

Is Tyson Barrie No Longer in the Conversation?

There’s some debate going on this past week as to how much Barrie is really on the Oilers radar and how much Barrie is still considering the Oilers. Recent reports suggest he’s more than open to a deal with Edmonton and some are thinking he might settle for a lower deal than many expected. Apparently, Barrie’s agent has felt out the free agent waters and the home run the defenseman was hoping to hit might be more like a double.

Peirre LeBrun writes:

If the Oilers are willing to do a three-year deal worth between $4.5 million and $5 million a season, and I’m not saying they are, but let’s say they offer that: if I’m Barrie, I sign it. Sure, there could be another million a year elsewhere, and that’s something, but the “fit’’ is best in Edmonton. Just my two cents.

source – ‘LeBrun: Which defencemen could change addresses, or stay put, this upcoming offseason?’ – Pierre leBrun – The Athletic – 06/23/2021

If that’s true, is this something the Oilers want to consider? Signing Barrie at a good price isn’t the worst idea, but it creates an issue when it comes to Evan Bouchard. This is true whether or not the Oilers get Larsson re-signed as Barrie is not the kind of player you can plug in instead of Larsson and call it a day.