Adam Larsson expects to up production, step into bigger role with Oilers

Jared Clinton
Adam Larsson (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The one-for-one swap that brought Adam Larsson to Edmonton and sent Taylor Hall to New Jersey caught just about everyone off guard, and the reaction among many was that the Devils had gotten the better of the deal.

One reason the general consensus swayed in the favor of New Jersey was that Larsson, 23, had yet to transform into the top-pairing blueliner he was projected to be. But the now-Oilers defenseman has faith in his ability, and he believes he can move into a bigger role in Edmonton, make a bigger impact than he had in New Jersey and make the trade look more even than it was believed to be when the deal was completed.

So after logging 22:30 of ice time per game for the Devils this past season, scoring three goals and 18 points and skating as a top-pairing defenseman at the World Championship for Sweden, Larsson intends to take his game to another level.

“I think I can take an even bigger step,” Larsson told media Monday. “There was a lot of focus on defense last year, and penalty kill, but obviously the next step is more offense and hopefully a little more power play time.” Read more

Will Edmonton’s growing defense be enough for a playoff spot?

Ryan Kennedy
Darnell Nurse (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The best-before date on “crucial season for the Oilers,” expired long ago, but the goal is still the same for 2016-17: get back to the post-season for the first time in, now, more than a decade. Milan Lucic has replaced Taylor Hall as a top-line winger, while Jesse Puljujarvi is the latest lottery pick to bring excellent skill as a potential top-six forward.

But defense is going to be the bellwether.

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Rumor Roundup: Trading Yakupov won’t be easy for Oilers

Lyle Richardson
Nail Yakupov (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Throughout last season, Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov was frequently mentioned as a potential trade candidate. Entering this off-season, speculation persisted the 2012 first-overall draft pick would be dealt at some point.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli was certainly busy in recent weeks, shipping left wing Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson and inking free-agent winger Milan Lucic. As speculation persists over other possible moves by Chiarelli, forwards Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are mentioned as possible trade chips.

Yakupov, however, scarcely received mention until earlier this week. On Tuesday, Sun-Sentinel.com’s Harvey Fialkov took to Twitter to shoot down a rumor claiming the Florida Panthers might deal defenseman Alex Petrovic to the Oilers for the young Russian forward. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Shattenkirk possible target for Rangers after Brassard trade

Kevin Shattenkirk (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

After weeks of anticipation, the New York Rangers finally made a significant roster move this summer. On Monday, they dealt center Derick Brassard and a seventh-round pick in 2018 to the Ottawa Senators for center Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second-round selection.

In shipping out Brassard’s $5-million annual average salary through 2018-19 for Zibanejad’s $2.65 million in 2016-17, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton freed up an additional $2.35 million. He can put that toward re-signing a restricted free agent forward such as Chris Kreider or Kevin Hayes. He could also use it to his roster via trade or free agency.

Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News speculates Gorton could use the savings to acquire St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He could then re-sign the blueliner, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, to an extension worth $6-million annually. Leonard also wonders if Kreider could be swapped for Shattenkirk before the winger’s arbitration date on Friday. Read more

The five early off-season moves that will have the biggest impact

Brian Elliott (Dilip Vishwanat/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s still nearly three months until the NHL campaign opens, which will leave the league’s 30 teams with ample time to tune and tweak their rosters as opening night approaches.

However, a few teams have made big splashes this off-season. Some have gotten creative, such as the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers, by trading for a player’s exclusive negotiating rights to ink them to a deal before free agency opened, while others have gone the more traditional route, like the Boston Bruins, who shelled out a five-year, $30-million deal to David Backes.

Meanwhile, some clubs have gone the trade route, with the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators linking up to make one-for-one deals that both teams hope will improve their situations going forward.

And though there are still a number of free agents who could sign and make a difference next season, the biggest names are off the market. So here are the five off-season moves that have been made (so far) that will have the biggest impact this coming season: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Bruins need to look to free agents for blueline help

Kris Russell (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins efforts to bolster their defense via the trade market hasn’t panned out so far. The asking prices for available blueliners such as St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba and Anaheim’s Cam Fowler are rumored to be expensive.

It could be time for Bruins GM Don Sweeney to consider his options via free agency. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty lists Kris Russell, James Wisniewski and Luke Schenn as possible blueline targets.

Russell, 29, is a top-four defenseman and shotblocking specialist. The 33-year-old Wisniewski missed all but one game last season to a knee injury. When healthy, he’s a good puckmoving blueliner. Schenn, 26, has a booming shot and plays a physical style.

This trio won’t address the Bruins long-term defensive needs. However, one of them could be a decent, affordable short-term option while Sweeney awaits for the trade market to improve.

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Which players could take on the six vacant captaincies?

Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Four players became first-time captains in the NHL ahead of the 2015-16 season, each to varying degrees of success.

In San Jose, Joe Pavelski took over as captain after years of speculation that he was the next in line to wear the ‘C’ for the Sharks. In his first season, he helped lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup final with an impressive post-season performance.

Pavelski was joined as a new captain by Max Pacioretty, who donned the ‘C’ for the first time and did so as a member of arguably the most storied organization in the history of the sport, the Montreal Canadiens. Pacioretty’s Canadiens flew out of the gate like an early Cup contender, but an injury to Carey Price derailed Montreal’s season.

Also joining the captains club were Nick Foligno, who was chosen to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Andy Greene, selected by the New Jersey Devils to take the captaincy from the retiring Bryce Salvador. Both teams missed the post-season, but took some strides forward that have both fan bases hopeful for the coming campaign.

While four new captains may seem like a lot, there’s potential for as many as seven first-time captains to take over major leadership roles in 2016-17. Anze Kopitar has already been handed the ‘C’ for the Los Angeles Kings, but that still leaves the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers without captains. So, will those clubs have a captain this coming season and, if so, who will stitch the ‘C’ to their sweater? Read more

Wayne Gretzky helped convince Milan Lucic to sign with Oilers

Ian Denomme
Milan Lucic. (Getty Images)

If Milan Lucic was unsure about signing as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers, he got the extra push he needed from The Great One.

In an interview with Jeremy Roenick and Billy Jaffe on the RoenickLife Podcast, Lucic said he made a call to Wayne Gretzky to get some guidance on his decision. After talking to Gretzky, who spent nine of his most memorable NHL seasons in Edmonton, Lucic was convinced.

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