I don't like the Adam Larsson trade. Almost everything I've read or heard talks about how this is a trade the Oilers lost badly and that everyone in New Jersey is laughing at us. While I don't want to sit here and talk about how everything is going to be fine in Oil Country I thought I would try and provide a different spin than many hear have read.
Who is Adam Larsson? Good news, he is a right shot defenseman. That title has been paraded around here for months as the savior to this organization. For those of you expecting an elite defenseman who will run the power-play and be a juggernaut in both ends of the ice, you're going to be disappointed. For those thinking he will be a steady presence in the defensive zone who can handle tougher minutes; I have better news.
First let's put some stats into context. He led his team in hits last season with 163, which would have put him three hits above Darnell Nurse who led the Oilers D in hits. He also averaged more minutes than any Oilers defenseman from last season. Andrej Sekera was the big minutes guy for Edmonton last season, averaging 21:50. Larsson averaged 22:31. He gave the puck away 27 times last season. For context, Mark Fayne, Edmonton's only defenseman I would call a shutdown guy had 36 playing 13 fewer games.
To paint a picture, what we have here is a guy who plays big minutes, has a huge amount of defensive zone starts, and is incredibly responsible in his own end. He goes up against the toughest competition on a regular basis and handles himself very well. The Oilers don't have a single player in their system with Larsson's skillset.
The Oilers defense last year had two big issues. The first was they weren't very good at keeping the puck out of their net. The second was they struggled with producing points. Larsson helps with the former more than the latter. The trade off of being a defensive specialist is Larsson is not a puck moving defender. As we see with many players, as one becomes more defensively responsible the point production falters. Larsson had 18 points last season; 24 the year before. I can imagine it is difficult to produce points from the backend on the team that scored the least goals last season. Larsson will never be a huge point producer but if he is the guy who's able to clear the puck out of his zone and get it to Connor McDavid I do not think it's unreasonable to imagine him as a 25-30 point producer.
Everyone likes to talk about winners and losers in trades. Right now there is an obvious clear-cut winner. For the Oilers to save face here Larsson needs to be a guy who can average 24 minutes a night effectively and he needs to do that out of the gate. I don't think Chiarelli is done making moves with the obvious hole being a second right shot who is a powerplay specialist.
The defense is better today than it was a week ago. The forwards lost an elite player in Taylor Hall and gained a power forward in Lucic. Like it or not Chiarelli is putting his stamp on the team. Time will tell if the overall on ice product will be better off.
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Thanks for reading!