In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, Connor McDavid was voted the team’s Masterton Trophy Finalist, there is talk regarding a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins extension, and a number of players have returned to Rogers Place ice to begin skating under Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan.
Connor McDavid Nominated For the Masterton Award
Early Tuesday morning the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced the 31 nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Oilers representative is Connor McDavid.
There are a few compelling stories in the NHL this season that would warrant winning this award but McDavid’s is truly inspiring. The Oilers captain suffered a serious knee injury during the final game of the 2018/2019 season in Calgary and spent the entire summer rehabbing instead of getting surgery that could have kept him out of the entire 2019-20 season. There was no guarantee the rehab would work, but a dedicated McDavid defied the odds and came back stronger than ever.
The entire rehab process was documented on an emotional show called Whatever It Takes. It took fans behind-the-scenes from the moment the injury occurred to his rejoining the team ahead of schedule. Despite probably playing the following season at less than 100%, he scored the second-most points in the NHL and helped the Art Ross Trophy Winner come in first.
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Confidence Growing that Nugent-Hopkins Will Get Deal Done
While Sportnset’s Mark Spector says there isn’t a lot of pressure from either Ryan Nugent-Hopkins camp nor the Oilers to get a deal done right away, Spector is confident Nugent-Hopkins will sign an extension with the team.
He adds that he doesn’t expect a contract offer from GM Ken Holland until well into the 2020-2021 season, but when one comes it will be because at 27, Nuge is in his prime and “not replaceable without paying someone else whatever it is he’ll make in his next deal.” Spector adds that the Oilers don’t internally have someone to replace Nugent-Hopkins.
While he expects that Nugent-Hopkins could try and get Leon Draisaitl-like money, because McDavid makes $12.5 million and Draisaitl $8.5 million, it’s unlikely Nugent-Hopkins would make anything above $8.5 million per season. The Oilers could easily argue paying less and Nugent-Hopkins would likely feel it’s fair as long as its close.
And, while fans will find that high if it gets to that point, the other good news is that it avoids the Oilers being too top-heavy like Toronto — a team with three forwards averaging over $11 apiece.
Edmonton-Based Oilers Players Return to Ice
On Monday, Matt Benning was one of five players to return to Rogers Place to skate as the arena opened back up under Phase 2 of the NHL’s plan to return to play. Benning, along with Kris Russell, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Benson, and Stuart Skinner were excited to be back and the defenseman talked to the Oilers media on a quick conference call about the atmosphere.
Benning explained that it was nice to get back to skating. He said:
“It’s one thing to train, it’s another thing to get on the ice. On your first ice session, you’re more or less trying to get your legs under you and your feet under you. I think we spent a good 15 to 20 minutes getting that part of our game dialled in. I felt a lot better than what I expected.”
He noted that it’s going to take some time to get back up to speed, but his mind had assumed things would be worse than they really were.
“Some people can get out there and pick up where they left off, but speaking for myself, when I’m off the ice for two days it feels like I’ve never skated in my life before. Three months was a little nerve-wracking, but I felt better than expected.”
One of the off-ice challenges for Benning is that his wife is due to have a baby at the end of the month and if the NHL gets closer to returning to play, he’ll have to quarantine for 14 days if he chooses not to stay in the assigned hotel versus being with his wife and newborn. That said, he’s confident it will all get figured out, He noted, “My wife’s a nurse, so she knows how that all goes. It’s uncomfortable, but that’s part of it.”
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Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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