In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors report, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug provided an in-depth update on contract talks between the team and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Is there a chance he might be moved before the end of the season? Ethan Bear has suffered a setback in terms of his recovery and will not play Wednesday night. There are other lineup changes and Connor McDavid is one point away from 500. Finally, can Mike Smith rebound after a not-so great game on Monday?
Bear Suffers “Setback”, Other Changes on Blue Line
Bear will not play Wednesday night versus the Winnipeg Jets, even though speculation was that he might slot back into the Oilers lineup. Head coach Dave Tippett noted that the defenseman suffered a “setback” and will not be able to go. This isn’t great news for the Oilers who have been waiting seven games for Bear to recover and would love to provide a bit more stability on the blue line.
Tippett talked about how he believed the Oilers played well enough to win on Monday, but simply didn’t shut down the opposition on defense. He said the Oilers essentially gave the game away and noted the key to beating a gifted offensive team like the Jets is to play a bit more stingy and tight on defense. Tippett knows that you won’t be able to stop the Jets completely, because they are bound to make good plays no matter how good your defense, but the team can do a better job.
It looks like Kris Russell will be in for the Oilers tonight. William Lagesson is also day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will not play on Wednesday.
Insider Says “Clock is Ticking” on Nugent-Hopkins Contract Talks
Rishaug extensively covers the Oilers and provided an update on the situation facing the franchise when it comes to Nugent-Hopkins and his pending contract extension. Through a detailed series of tweets, the reporter noted that this is a situation to watch as the NHL Trade Deadline is only a few months away.
Rishaug writes: “…am told at this point there has been no resumption in talks between the Oilers and RNH camp. Talks broke off abruptly before the season and it’s been radio silence since then.” He adds, “RNH has made it clear he wants to remain an Oiler long term.” Rishaug notes that the team understands what the player’s value is on and off the ice and that he’s built chemistry with McDavid. He also points out that the Oilers need to be extremely careful about what money to offer in a COVID financially-strict economy.
This is not an asset the organization would want to lose for nothing in free agency, and letting him walk out the door could be a big set back, especially considering the relationship and chemistry with McDavid. Tough decisions ahead for both these sides with clock ticking.
McDavid One Point from 500
McDavid stands a very good chance of matching the 500 points scored in 369 games played by Sidney Crosby tonight. McDavid currently sits at 499 points and only needs one more, something he should do quite easily. It’s a huge feat that McDavid downplayed, but it’s important to note how big deal this is. Even more impressive, the superstar center has 151 more points than any other player from the 2015 draft class.
When asked about the statistic, McDavid said, “That’s pretty cool. A guy I grew up watching,” He added, “He’s done a couple of other things that I am trying to do, with all of his Cups and stuff. That stuff is more important, but if (500) happens, great.”
Mike Smith Back In
There’s a lot of talk about the Oilers goaltending after the team allowed six goals against the Jets Monday. Some of that blame is being placed at Smith’s feet since he allowed a couple of weak ones to get buy him, but the veteran goalie will get the start tonight to see if he can rebound.
Prior to Monday’s game, Smith had allowed just one goal on 66 shots. Its funny how one less-than stellar game can change the perception of fans. Smith tends to rebound well after a poor performance so the Oilers are hoping he’ll get back to his winning ways.
It’s a call many in Oilers Nation are unsure about, some suggesting this is typical of Tippett who has a long history with Smith from his days in Arizona.
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”