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Jim Parsons The Hockey Writers

Published on Saturday, March 20, 2021





Oilers News & Rumors: McDavid, Barrie, Larsson, Yamamoto, More

In Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there’s a lot of talk about Tyson Barrie this week. Most fans are elated at the fact he’s producing at such a high offensive level. Others are still pessimistic he’s worth taking a look at on an extension. Meanwhile, Connor McDavid is getting high praise from his head coach and there’s news on extension talks with players like Adam Larsson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Finally, there are some lineup changes heading into Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Barrie Leads Defenseman in Points, Extension Talks Coming

Unfortunately, some fans will never be happy with the way things are going to for Barrie this season. Instead of applauding him for being the highest-scoring defenseman in the NHL, a small group of fans have taken to criticizing the player for the fact many of his points are coming via second assists and power play points.

Toronto Maple Leafs Tyson Barrie
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tyson Barrie (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

I’m going to take a deeper dive into this debate in a separate article, but what’s important to note right now is that the Oilers see him as a valuable part of their team success (now tied for first in the Scotia North Division). There is talk that Ken Holland is going to hold preliminary discussions with Barrie on a contract extension starting next week.

This is a player who came over with some baggage from the Toronto Maple Leafs and has found a comfortable home on the Oilers. It will be interesting to see just how much he values that in his early discussions with the team and how badly he wants to stay in an environment conducive to him being successful.

Related: NHL Rumors: Oilers, Stars, Senators, Sabres and Hall, More

Tippett Loving McDavid’s Game

What’s not to love about how Connor McDavid is playing right now? He’s pulling away in the points race, he’s putting the Oilers on his back and willing them on to victories and head coach Dave Tippett notes that the captain is a totally different player on the defensive end as well.

After a 2-1 win over the Jets on Thursday night, Tippett said in a media avail:

“His offensive abilities and different ways to create offence is off the charts. What I like most about him this year is he’s come in with a real determined mindset to defend well and be a real good solid player in our own end. Our whole coaching staff talks about it every day how much he’s dug into playing a real winning style of game.”

Oilers to Talk Contract with Larsson

Also set to begin contract negotiations with the Oilers is defenseman Adam Larsson. There were some questions prior to the season about how much Larsson would be a priority for Edmonton but he’s played his way into the conversation of a defenseman the Oilers should avoid losing in free agency.

What an extension for the gritty and cycle-destroying blueliner might look like is unclear but the Oilers want to gauge his interest in sticking around. I spoke with Dustin Nielson of TSN earlier this week about how effective Larsson has been and it was agreed that he might be one of the most important Oilers’ blueliners this season, despite the obvious choices among fans being Nurse and Barrie.

Nielson pointed out that without Larsson holding down that slot behind Nurse, the Oilers defense corps isn’t nearly as solid. Larsson has also been instrumental for his playing partners who are often young and relatively inexperienced. Nielson said, “Two more years of Adam Larsson is probably a good thing for this team moving forward, something I don’t think many would have said last year.”

Yamamoto Still Out for Oilers, Plus Other Lineup Changes

Forward Kailer Yamamoto is still out with upper body and listed as day-to-day. The Oilers will be excited to have him back in the lineup but this is now the second game he’ll miss in a row.

Looks like William Lagesson is back in for Caleb Jones and it appears Jujhar Khaira is back in at third-line center tonight, having been forced to sit a game after badly losing a fight to Brett Ritchie of the Calgary Flames. How he rebounds from that incident will be interesting to see.

Mike Smith gets the start in goal.


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