There are risks, and potentially costs, associated with such a strategy. Any player who reaches free agency owes it to themselves to test the waters, exploring the term and dollars available in other cities, and it could be that a rival general manager will make an offer the UFA player simply can’t resist.
Conversely, allowing his current team to benefit from his UFA status might be worth some dollar amount on a new deal with the Oilers as well. Larsson, at the right price, would be a great addition to any NHL club, and for certain clubs, could be the stabilising top-4 defenceman that puts them into Stanley Cup contention. Losing him for nothing would be painful for the Oilers, but not unbearable, given the strong pipeline of defensive prospects in their system, so the risk might be worthwhile.
A Logjam of Defensemen in the System
The names are well known to Oiler fans: Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg, and others. All of these players could turn into legitimate top-4 defenders, and some of them have an even higher ceiling. We’ve seen the difficulty young prospects have forcing their way onto Dave Tippett’s roster this season, with the skilled but inexperienced Bouchard sitting unused on the taxi squad for significant stretches of time. That will only continue if Holland doesn’t move some of the older players along, forcing his coach’s hand.