Welcome back. It’s Friday, which means it’s time for the conclusion of our staff roundtable. Please recall our superstar panel from Wednesday. It’s comprised of some of the brightest voices here at Copper and Blue. I’m talking about Preston, Czechboy and Shona. They’re going to hammer out what needs hammering.
Let’s pick up right where we left off, shall we?
Q) Tell me what Darnell Nurse’s next deal looks like.
Preston: This is a topic that makes me nervous heading into the offseason. Darnell Nurse is a very important part of this team’s future but he is in no position to be asking for the world on his next deal. He has recently come on offensively this year and is a fine shutdown defender so I am hoping he lands somewhere 4-5 million dollar range on his next deal. Frankly, anything over 6 million should land him on the trade block as the team cannot handcuff themselves with another faulty deal.
Czechboy: It will be a combination of 6’s and 7’s and be worth around 42 million. The difference between him and Zack Kassian is that Darnell could easily get that from 10 other teams in the NHL as a UFA. I know some on this site really don’t like his game but we finally developed an excellent Dman and I don’t see anyone in our pipe that can replace him.
Shona: More money than I’ll make in a lifetime. I think it’ll look like Ekblad or S. Jones’ contracts in a lot of ways, which I think is too much money, but that’s my expectation. I think Nurse’s camp would like something like Hedman’s contact. But Nurse would have to be hell of a lot better for that. My hope is that it’s a little less than Klefbom’s contract.
Q:) Tell me what Ethan Bear’s next deal looks like.
Preston: An even tougher question to answer. If you would have asked me this question a few weeks ago I would have told you that he would probably land himself a bridge deal that paid him anywhere between 2-3 million dollars on the short term. Things have changed though and our lovely Calgary neighbours are to be blamed. It is my understanding that Rasmus Andersson’s 6 year deal with an AAV of 4.5 million might have upped Bear’s number a bit. Now I can see him demanding anywhere between 3-4 million dollars for a 5 year term....and that’s a hopeful estimate.
Czechboy: I’d try to lock him up to something like the Klefbom deal. 6 x 3? He’s been such a tremendous bonus to our season. Neat stat: Marino is outscoring both Nurse and Bear this season.
Shona: This is easier with C. Jones signing his contract. I would expect more than that. Maybe something in the range of 1.2 to 1.5 million for two to three years. Might have to pay big money at the end of it, but maybe not.
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?
Preston: I think Zack Kassian deserved the 2-game suspension for the Matthew Tkachuk beatdown....BUT I think Tkachuk deserved some sort of supplemental discipline for the first hit he laid on Kassian. For the league to sweep his blatant headshot under the carpet and say “That is the type of hitting we want in this league” is absolutely atrocious and should be corrected in the future. In the end, the suspension to Kassian was ok but letting Tkachuk off the hook was not.
Czechboy: Yes and no. Zack deserved his suspension. That precedent has already been set with Polak and Nurse. That was an easy decision. Tkachuk wasn’t making hockey plays or trying to separate people from the puck. He was trying to piss off Zack and win the game. He was masterful at it. Think of his version of the story - ‘So I got to hit their enforcer 3x, didn’t even get a bruise, won the game and then he got suspended’. Having said that. Tkachuk is an absolute rat of a player and if player safety is meant to protect players then they need to clamp down on guys like Tkachuk and all their BS. If the refs called the first hit a penalty and we score on the powerplay and win the game then it’s a whole different story.
As far as Kassian. He should’ve ‘take a number’ and waited till we had a lead or the game was not on the line. Taking penalties in the final minute of a period in a tie game is beyond stupid. Also, if he’s going to get 2 games for vigilante justice it’d be nice if he actually hurt the guy. A black eye or broken nose would’ve been nice. Tkachuk didn’t miss a shift and was out on the powerplay. Didn’t even lose his mouthguard in all that. Of course, like a dummy, Kassian has now let everyone know he has a long memory and is coming for him. That should probably tack a few extra games onto his next suspension. I’m not even sure if I’d play Zack in the rematch. Another really good idea would be to tell Zack to go and piss off their star players. I don’t think Calgary wants Zack in Gaudreau’s face after every whistle. Send the message that way and target those guys. FTR... I hate this kind of hockey but ‘player safety’ does nothing to prevent guys like Tkachuk from being guys like Tkachuk.
Shona: Easy for me. I think Kassian should choose his words more carefully. I think he should also remember that he has a record (a lengthy one) with the Player Safety Department when he does stuff like this. That record alone will earn him less leniency. Just a fact. I think Tkachuk should have been suspended for some time because his actions aren’t aligned with keeping the players on the ice safe, but I also don’t know the rile book like the Department of Player Safety. Maybe there’s a loophole. If so, they should probably close that. I think that Kassian also needs to remember that if he wants to justify a big contract goals look better than suspensions and he needs to play as much as possible. Keeping his temper will be a big key.
Q:) Finally, is this club playoff bound? Why, or why not?
Preston: Let’s be honest with ourselves right now. the fact that we are even asking this question in mid-January is a victory in itself. The Oilers have hung around all season long and they now find themselves within striking distance of the division lead. It is going to be a helluva ride to the end of the season but if they can continue to get stellar goaltending and be able to depth scoring from the bottom 6 and their defensive group I definitely think they have what it takes to make it to the playoffs. We have bet against the team all year long and they have proved us wrong....so why continue betting against them?
Czechboy: I said they were after Thanksgiving. Then they were AWFUL. Now we’re on a heater. I do think we will sneak in somewhere. We’re an incomplete team but we do have a legit Top 4 (a poor one) and a legit Top 5. Our bottom line guys definitely don’t cost us too many games. Our goalies keep winning. I do wonder if Russel or Larsson are trade chips? I do wonder if our GM realizes that Kassian is not a legit Top 6 player and shouldn’t be paid like one? I do wonder what Benson (AHL All Star game nominee, over 100 AHL games, .9 ppg) has to do to get the call? I’d like to see a Benson call up to firm up our Top 6. If that fails, a trade involving Larsson, Kassian or Russel. I’ve seen zero impact on our game in Zack’s 2 missed games.
Shona: I hope so. I worry that they haven’t been able to find a consistent form. Going on long winning streaks is great — a lot of fun — but a consistent level of play in a packed Pacific Division would be more advantageous.
Thanks go out to our staff for their contributions.
Enjoy the All-Star festivities. The chase for the second season is back on next week.