Oilers News & Rumors: McDavid, Nurse, Kane, Kuzmenko

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, Connor McDavid set a new career-high for points in a single season. How incredible is what he’s been able to accomplish? Meanwhile, there is an update on the health and status of Darnell Nurse and it’s clear how important he is to the team. What is likely going to happen with Evander Kane and how are things shaping up in terms of prospects for the Oilers? Finally, do the Oilers have a shot at KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko?

McDavid Only Getting Better

It’s just amazing what McDavid has done since joining the NHL. He set a new single-season career-high for points on Sunday when he reached 118 and he’s not done. With a three-point lead over Jonathan Huberdeau in the Art Ross Trophy race, it appears the Oilers’ captain is going to make a final push to secure another trophy win.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Here are the top-scoring seasons for McDavid since the 2016/17 season:

  • 2021-22 – 118 (and climbing)
  • 2018-19 – 116
  • 2017-18 – 108
  • 2020-21 – 105 (56 games)
  • 2016-17 – 100
  • 2019-20 – 97 (64 games)

He seems only to be getting better and what’s incredible is that he’s become a much more well-rounded player, backchecking more often and playing solid defensively. This has quietly been his best goal-scoring season to date as well. He’s got 43 goals on the season, passing his previous best of 41.

Evander Kane Hits 20, Just Got Expensive

20 goals in less than half a season is outstanding for any player. When it comes to Evander Kane and the pressure he might have felt joining a new team on what could have been his last shot in the NHL, it’s particularly impressive that he’s meshed so well and done everything he and the Oilers could have wanted in his window of opportunity this season.

Evander Kane Edmonton Oilers
Evander Kane, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers are certainly going to try and re-sign him as he’s everything McDavid needed on that top line. Kane is fast, physical, skilled, and eager to be a difference-maker. Unfortunately, all of that is going to make him extremely expensive. What GM Ken Holland does this summer will be intriguing and certainly polarizing.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Oilers’ 5-2 Loss to Blue Jackets – 4/24/22

There’s really no way the Oilers can keep all of Kane, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, and Ryan McLeod long-term if Kane is going to be looking at $5 million per season to start.

Nurse’s Injury Update

Head coach Jay Woodcroft confirmed this weekend and before either player was absent from the lineup against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday that neither Darnell Nurse (LBI) nor Puljujarvi (non-COVID illness) made the trip to Columbus. The Oilers lost against the Blue Jackets and their absences were noticeable.

Darnell Nurse OIlers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As Lowetide wrote, “Nurse is a two-way defenseman, he has value and helps his team win. He isn’t Bobby Orr, nor Nick Lidstrom, nor Paul Coffey, but he does eat enormous minutes on a team that needs exactly that from its No. 1 defender.” He added:

The great philosopher Taylor Swift once sang “haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate” and I’m done with the whole damn bunch. Darnell Nurse is Edmonton’s best defenseman, they needed him yesterday and they’ll need him tomorrow. His return to health is important to Edmonton’s playoff hopes. If you can’t see that, your focus is on things other than winning hockey games.

Oilers Prospects Looking Good

Xavier Bourgault picked up a goal and three assists on Sunday in QMJHL action. He now has 33 goals and 68 points in 41 games this season. He’s not the only prospect who has looked solid.

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The team’s 2021 sixth-round pick Matvey Petrov picked up 1-1-2 today as his OHL rookie regular season came to an end. As Bob Stauffer points out, “He finished top ten in OHL scoring with 40-50-90/+32 in 63 GP.” There’s Dylan Holloway that could make the jump if needed and the Oilers may have to look at Markus Niemelaninen or Philip Broberg if injuries take their toll in the postseason. Having depth is going to come in handy for Edmonton this season and next.

Oilers Have a Shot at KHL star Andrei Kuzmenko

Stauffer also spoke to Dan Milstein, the agent who represents Kane and KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko. Milstein did confirm during an interview that the Oilers would be one of the six-or-so teams that Kuzmenko shortlists and speaks to this offseason about signing a deal.

Kuzmenko is widely considered the best free-agent coming out of the KHL this season. Milstein noted that the only reason he slipped through the draft is that teams didn’t get a chance to watch him much during the lockout and he was in a depth role on the national team which didn’t showcase his skills. He scored 20 goals and 53 points in 45 games for St. Petersburg SKA this season.

The only real issue at this point is the problem of getting players out of Russia right now.