Oilers News & Rumors: Smith, Nurse, Hall, Holloway, Bouchard, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, Ken Holland was a guest on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer this week and discussed the NHL trade deadline, Evan Bouchard’s playing time, talks with Dylan Holloway and the possibility of extending Mike Smith. Finally, Doug MacLean was on 630CHED with Reid Wilkins and noted a reliable source told him the Oilers were, in fact, in on the Taylor Hall talks.

Oilers and Taylor Hall Trade Deadline Discussion

I’m still of the mindset that I don’t see it happening, but Doug MacLean, former NHL GM, was a guest on 630 CHED radio with host Reid Wilkins and passed along word about the Oilers possible interest in Taylor Hall. He noted:

“I also heard yesterday they’re in on the guy from Buffalo that everybody wants: Taylor Hall. I’m thinking: How is that going to work. How could Taylor Hall go there on a deal? The guy told me they’re looking at a deal that would have them both done for less than $12 million for both of them (Hall and RNH), and it would work next year…It was a reasonable source that said it.”

source – ‘Trade speculation: Edmonton Oilers are “in on” Taylor Hall talks, says NHL insider’ David Staples – Edmonton Journal – 04/07/2021
Taylor Hall Buffalo Sabres
Taylor Hall, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The only way this deal works is if the Oilers trade out a player like Zack Kassian, Mikko Koskinen or James Neal and I’m just not sure why the Buffalo Sabres would make such a move. Obviously, it would also involve the Oilers moving the first-round pick this season and from everything we’ve heard, GM Ken Holland is hesitant to do so.

That said, if the Oilers were open to moving their first-rounder, Buffalo isn’t likely getting a lot offers for a first and if Edmonton can work out a long-term extension at a discounted rate with Hall, maybe there’s something there.

Holland Hints at Quiet Deadline

While he told Bob Stauffer that GMs who are competing for the playoffs are always of the mindset you want to help your team before the deadline if you can, the hint was that this could be a quiet deadline for Edmonton. Again, Holland stressed that any deal would need to be dollar in, dollar out and suggested another way to look at things.

Noting that the team added a number of pieces in the offseason, the Oilers are still relatively healthy with a ton of depth in players like James Neal, Dominik Kahun, Joakim Nygard and other names that could be used. So too, if the Oilers are going to add, it needs to be an upgrade over what they currently have. He’s not sure there’s much of that out there making the kind of money Edmonton can afford.

Evan Bouchard’s Playing Time

Holland also acknowledged that it’s not ideal Bouchard isn’t playing as often as the team might like but that the defenseman looks good in practice and is in high spirits. Because the Oilers have three right-hand shot blueliners playing well and head coach Dave Tippett is not really in a position to take them out of the lineup, Bouchard just isn’t getting the time.

But, Holland did say that Bouchard is a big part of the Oilers future and hinted he’s got the offensive defenseman worked into his long-term plans. This is just one of those times when the Oilers need him on call, think he’s capable of playing, but this isn’t the time of year where you experiment with young players getting ice time.

Nurse’s Breakout Season

Saying that Darnell Nurse grabbed an opportunity with Oscar Klefbom’s injury, Holland is aware that this is a player he’ll need to keep in the back of his mind when it comes to long-term contracts for the Oilers. Saying it’s his job as a GM to make long-term financial projections for the roster, he’s constantly looking at one-year and two-year plans.

Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Nurse is currently playing on a bridge deal valued at $5.6 million per season. He’s bound to get a hefty raise if he keeps playing the way he’s playing and Holland will have to work that into the finances of the team.

Has Spoken to Dylan Holloway’s Camp

Holland says there’s no urgency to get a Dylan Holloway deal done, but he has spoken to the forward’s agent and family about his future. It seemed evident that a broken thumb was going to rule him out of any possible playing time in the NHL this season, but an entry-level contract is likely still on the table.

Holloway has a bright future with the Oilers but it’s not going to be a part of the roster this season.

Holland Considering Mike Smith Extension

When asked if he would consider extending Smith to another new deal, Holland offered a big explanation behind what went into his thought process to sign the goalie this past offseason and how he feels about his game this season. Noting his contributions to the team have been immense, Holland said he’s not worried about age and only cares about how the player is playing.

When asked if he would sign him again, Holland said, “Why wouldn’t I consider it? He’s playing at a high level.”