Oilers News & Rumors: Bear, Keith, Tarasenko, Nurse, Smith…

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there are new reports surfacing regarding a possible trade between the Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks. What have the Blackhawks asked for in return for Duncan Keith? Are the Oilers biting? There’s also recent chatter that Vladimir Tarasenko should be a player the Oilers look at. Is he a fit? Edmonton is getting down to the business of talking extension with Darnell Nurse, plus the team has hit a possible snag on negotiations with Mike Smith.

Blackhawks Want Bear and/or McLeod in Duncan Keith Trade

For fans in Edmonton who are against adding Keith via trade, the latest reports are really going to sit uncomfortably, while also providing a glimmer of hope that Ken Holland has set a limit on what he’s willing to pay to acquire the veteran defenseman. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Chicago is believed to have asked for Ryan McLeod and/or Ethan Bear in a trade.

Ethan Bear Edmonton Oilers
Ethan Bear, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Friedman writes in his latest 31 Thoughts column;

Chicago and Edmonton have been grinding away on a Duncan Keith deal for almost two weeks now, and we’re getting to the point of, “Does this happen, or not?” It’s believed Edmonton’s turned down some of the asks, such as Ethan Bear and/or Ryan McLeod. There’s definitely a desire for finality.

Immediate reactions from a lot of fans will be for Holland to simply walk away from trade discussion. It’s understandable that Chicago would ask for more than the Oilers want to give, but if their frame of mind is that Edmonton would, or should be willing to give up one of Bear or McLeod, the two sides aren’t even in the same arena when it comes to a deal. Many are arguing today that Holland should bail and not return to the table until Chicago comes back with a more reasonable ask.

It does sound like there’s already some hard ball being played by Holland on this. Reports are there is a “take it or leave it” deal out there, but there’s also some concern that deal require Chicago to retain any salary.

Nurse and Oilers Start Contract Negotiations

Also in from Friedman, the Oilers and Nurse have begun contract negotiations to sign the defenceman to a new contract. This would likely be a long-term extension (eight years) that would see Nurse make some excellent money. Comparables would put him somewhere between $6.75 and $8 million per season.

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

Nurse is eligible this summer to sign, even though he’s got one season remaining before he hits unrestricted free agency. The 26-year-old took a massive step forward this past season in his development and turned into a top-pair left-side blueliner who is arguably a bargain at $5.6-million.

Related: Oilers Expansion Draft History Fun Facts & Trivia

Mike Smith Contract Negotiations Ongoing

A few reports also suggest the Oilers and goaltender Mike Smith are talking extension but that there could be some hurdles over money. David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period wrote, “Contract negotiations between the Oilers and G Mike Smith are ongoing. I believe an offer has been tabled by the Oilers, but Smith’s camp will likely counter.” He adds, “Also hearing EDM has been exploring the goalie trade market, which may have more to do with a possible Koskinen buyout.”

If there’s a snag here, it could be that Smith wants a raise over the $2 million he made last season. He posted a 21-6-2 record with a .923 save percentage and a 2.31 GAA. On the open market, he could easily get a one-year contract worth $3,000,000 from someone. Not to mention, that contract would be guaranteed money and not necessarily just reliant on performance bonuses.

Interesting Take on Tarasenko

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal looked at the debate between Oilers fans over a player like Vladimir Tarasenko. He’s baffled by why fans would be so quick to want the Oilers to run away from a Keith trade, but so quick to suggest Edmonton consider adding Tarasenko as a forward?

Vladimir Tarasenko
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 27: Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates his second period goal against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on May 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

He writes:

The loud dissenters want no part of a Chicago trade for a guy who makes $5.4 million the next two seasons, yet a good number want the Oilers to investigate St. Louis winger winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who has had three shoulder surgeries, makes $7.5 million for two more years and whose game has regressed. In good part, because his shoulder won’t allow him to shoot like he used to. A shoulder that may never be what it once was.

source -‘OILERS NOTES: It’s Duncan Keith vs. Vlad Tarasenko on trade front’ – Jim Matheson – Edmonton Journal – 07/10/2021

I’ll be honest, I’m not so sure where I would sit on a Tarasenko trade. I’m all for Keith (exclusively at the right price), but Tarasenko’s price tag and injury history are concerning. If he’s healthy, he could be excellent. If he’s not, that’s a lot of money.