Our reader roundtable concludes today with part II.
There’s much to be discussed. Contracts, Zack Kassian, and those elusive playoffs. Is this the year?
Q) Tell me what Darnell Nurse’s next deal looks like.
@Jackie_Bee16: So this is where I get controversial. I want to see Nurse play a game or two as a winger. I NEED to see what that looks like. He’s tough, he’s got good vision on the ice and he can snipe the puck pretty well. We all know he wouldn’t take any shit from people either, so to see him crashing the front of the net would make me happy. If my hypothetical scenario paid off and the wing was a fit for him, I’d like to see the Oilers sign him for 2 years and pay him $3.5M per year with a signing bonus and decent bonus structure based on goals scored etc...for no more than three years. If that’s not going to happen - which in all seriousness it likely won’t - a long term deal for him as a defenseman is not ideal right now. His last contract was a bridge deal which was smart because the year he was due to hit FA, he had a hell of a season - things have died down now. I think he still has a lot to prove - and for the love of Nuge, please don’t pay him $6m per year. He’s not good enough at this point to be demanding that kind of money. I say 2-3 years at $3.5M per year (maybe even $4M) would be a great deal for the organization. I mean KRuss is getting $4M a year and he’s not Nurse. If Nurse performs, give him the long term deal. I’d hate to see the Oilers go into a playoff run without Nurse - they need that toughness in the back end. Playoffs are a whole other world, and there would be a big gap there if he wasn’t there
@OilerDadMike: This is a great question, opinions are all over the map on this one. If he weren’t Connors best friend, I’d be inclined to move him for help at forward. I don’t get any sense the Oilers are leaning that way. My guess $6m x 6 years
@Avry: I’m thinking Darnell’s next deal is around three years for about $4.5 million a year. The talk of giving him $7 million is just way too much for me to be comfortable with but we’ll see what Ken Holland does
@KkevrockK: This is really tough and will show us if Nurse really wants to be a part of THIS team. He can shoot for the moon and probably get 3+ at somewhere near 6 years scaling up from 4.
Q) Tell me what Ethan Bear’s next deal looks like
@Jackie_Bee16 Sign this kid long term - 6 years. I don’t know what the money looks like at this point - but he is a rookie and outshines most of the d-men on the team. Just lock him the fuck up!
@OilerDadMike: I suspect we’ll see a bridge deal for Ethan. $2.5 x 2, maybe $3m x 3
@Avry: I could see a bridge deal of two years at $2.5 million for him. I’ve liked his play so far on the back end but I don’t think the Oilers break the bank for him just yet.
@KkevrockK: Bear is going to get a 3 year bridge somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 and let’s not get upset if the team drags it out. At the start of the year almost everyone had Caleb Jones ahead of Bear and he just signed an extension for 850K over two.
Q) Zack Kassian has been suspended for two games after his incident with Matthew Tkachuk two Saturdays ago. Did the league get this decision right? What should have been handled differently by the league? By Kassian?
@Jackie_Bee16: No of course the league didn’t get it right. They never do (especially after seeing Eberle get hammered into the goal post from behind last night with no repercussions).Tkachuk threw two dangerous hits on Kassian, and there was no call on either one of them. Kassian decided he’d had enough and wanted to let Tkachuk know - but of course, Tkachuk is a pussy and wouldn’t fight him. He just wants to start shit and then run away (to his credit, he’s excellent at antagonizing players and getting in their heads - but dude - if you’re going to come “Steaming down the tracks” - be prepared for some push back and answer the damn bell once in a blue moon and get some modicum of respect back from the rest of the league). If the refs are going to allow those dangerous hits, then Kassian has a right to protect himself and let Tkachuk know that this kind of crap won’t be tolerated. Did Kassian go overboard? Probably - during that powerplay, the Flames scored the winning goal. Timing is everything Kass. Is Kassian my kind of crazy? HELLS YES! I want to see him throw Tkachuk around like a ragdoll on a daily basis - and I’m glad that he stood up for himself, both in the game and in the interviews after
@OilerDadMike: It’s hockey, people get pissed off at other players on a nightly basis. I think if the Ref would have called that first hit – blindside – charge… we wouldn’t be talking about any of this. It was a predatory hit, apparently within the rules of the game. I have no issue with what Kass did, in hindsight if he had taken a number and waited to seek revenge, that most likely would have been better. AT the end of the day, Kass reacted like he did and is taking his medicine. This is far from over, but suspect the game on the 29th will be highly entertaining. Not so much for evening the score, I suspect it will be a physical hard fought game. But with gloves on. I think one lesson Kass learned, points are huge right now. Someday, some game in the future, this will get entertaining and retribution will be in store.
@Avry The league got the decision half right. Zack Kassian can’t just pummel a player that is not a willing combatant at the same time, Matthew Tkachuk had some questionable hits. The first hit he threw towards Kassian was a dangerous play, that’s a shot to the head to a player coming from behind the net, that had to have been punished with an equal two game suspension. I get the anger of Kassian but that was a bad time and place to take the bait with Tkachuk, a 3-3 game in a game where you need two points off of Calgary wasn’t the spot to finally get your pound of flesh off of the man. Quite frankly I think you annoy a guy like Tkachuk more by not giving into the urge to just straight up jumping him, sure chirp him but by not doing something that gives Calgary an advantage takes away a little aspect of his game.
@KkevrockK: The league blew this incident completely. Anyone watching video of the hits thrown at Kassian can’t deny that the hits thrown at him were not targeted, when a player is nearly stopped and then takes 3-4 hard strides directly at a player...that’s charging. Furthermore, contact to the head incidental or not 3X in a single game is inexcusable. Zack should have kept his cool in a tie game but hockey is emotional and I don’t fault him for exploding as he did after the refs made no calls on any of those hits. The league should have handed out matching suspensions if not just matching fines. The 29th is going to be must watch hockey! So much so that Mr. Parros himself is coming into get boo’d.
Q) Finally, is this club playoff bound? Why, or why not?
@Jackie_Bee16: That all depends on which team shows up. The pacific division is so tight right now that one loss now could be the difference come April. I do think the Oilers can definitely get themselves there, I think they have the potential to be there and lord knows I need to see Connor in the damn playoffs more than once. Will it be a deep run? Likely not - but you never know. The Oilers need to find consistency in their game, their scoring (outside of Leon and Connor), their goaltending and their effort. Do they have a team full of superstars? Hell no - but they’ve proven what they’re capable of - they just have to keep doing it.
@OilerDadMike: PK has levelled off to good, PP is humming along at excellent. Secondary scoring has finally reared it’s head. The boys seem engaged from the start of the game to the end. Tipp has them playing well. Goaltending has been solid lately. I think/believe that we’ll make the post season, and it will be incredible hockey from here on in. Pre-playoffs so to speak! No doubt someone’s going to get hot, and some team will fall off. My prediction is 94 points
@Avry: I’ve tossed and I’ve turned about thinking and pondering, but for a Mick Foley level “cheap pop” of the home fans I’ll say yes, this is a playoff bound team. The Pacific is the most fun but yet shakiest division in hockey. An Edmonton sustained run can see them leave behind Vegas, Calgary and Arizona. The start that the Oilers had thanks to as per usual 97 and 29 being juggernauts, but also James Neal going supernova early on has this team in a position in which I can honestly say they’ll be playing into late April.
This team is also doing something that has to be done in the playoffs. Winning on the road. The Oilers are in a four way tie in the Western Conference for most road wins with 14, you have to find a way to get Ws outside of Rogers Place in the spring and currently this group is doing just that. The evil injury bug has yes hit the team but not in the waves that have absolutely crippled this roster. Yes, you did lose Adam Larsson but it wasn’t a season ending injury, no key cogs are out for a lengthy amount of time right now. A fairly healthy squad gives you a leg up in this playoff race.
The goaltending may also be just “ok” but right now that’s enough to keep your head above water and push back tee times in the Pacific, now if this was the Central or the Atlantic where the bubble/non playoff teams are at 57-58 points? I think some fans would be wondering how fast they can get an Alexis Lafreniere jersey order for cresting.
@KkevrockK: I can’t in my life ever remember a division being so tight! . Currently 2 points separates the division lead from the wild card. We are seeing the epitome of parity as any team is capable of beating their opponents and no one team is asserting dominance over their division rivals. Any slump or injury could have a devastating impact but I do feel that the Oilers will knuckle down and play their way in!
Thanks again to those who contributed.
Our staff roundtable concludes tomorrow.