A hockey source confirmed an earlier Sportsnet report the Kraken has agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with unrestricted free agent Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson and will make him its pick from that squad in Wednesday’s NHL expansion draft.
Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff Hockey had reported the Larsson talks, and that general manager Ron Francis is also closing in on a deal with unrestricted Dallas Stars free agent defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and plans to make him his pick from that team as well.
Larsson, 28, a 6-foot-3, 208-pound native of Sweden, was a fourth overall pick by New Jersey a decade ago and got dealt to Edmonton as part of the 2016 Taylor Hall trade. He’s a right-handed shot, which is rarer for NHL blue-liners that tend to skew left, and he’s coming from an Oilers team offering scant possibilities in the draft.
He had been expected to partner with new Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith, acquired in a trade from Chicago last week.
Oleksiak, 28, is an imposing 6-foot-7, 255-pounder who shoots left-handed and was taken 14th overall by the Stars in 2011. He averaged more than 20 minutes per game of playing time during his team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last fall.
The Stars also had offered slim pickings on the expansion front, so getting him to agree to terms — if the report is confirmed — helps the Kraken maximize that pick and gives the team a physical look from the get-go.
The Kraken has already reportedly agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million deal with Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger, 27, ahead of Wednesday’s draft in which it will select players from 30 teams with the exception of the prior-expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
With the Larsson and Driedger moves, the Kraken has $7.5 million in salary-cap commitments for next season on those two players. Expansion draft rules require the team to select at least 20 players under contract for next season at a minimum cap hit of $48.9 million.