Oilers News & Rumors: Nurse, Nugent-Hopkins, NHL Expansion Draft

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, Darnell Nurse was not listed as a Finalist for the Norris Trophy. Is that a good or bad thing for the team? What is the latest on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins contract negotiations and is he going to be a $6 million player? Finally, what is the strategy the Oilers take into the NHL Expansion Draft?

Nurse Snubbed In Norris Trophy Voting

It’s not hard to make an argument that Nurse should have been among the three finalists for the Norris Trophy this season. While Adam Fox, Cale Makar and Victor Hedman were also deserving and did get the nod, Nurse had a fantastic season finishing second in goals from a defenseman with 16, first in even-strength goals from a defenseman with 15 and second in even-strength points from a defenseman with 29. He also averaged 25:38 minutes per game, which was fourth in entire NHL.

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

All that said, that Nurse was not a Finalist is not actually a terrible thing from an Edmonton Oilers contract negotiation standpoint. GM Ken Holland is going to have to get Nurse signed to a long-term extension, something the two sides can start talking about as early as this summer and adding a nomination or possibly a win to his resume would have made it all that much harder to get Nurse in at a number both sides are comfortable with.

Talk is that Nurse could get as much as $8 million times eight years and it would serve the Oilers well if they didn’t have to go beyond that number.

Related: Oilers’ Nurse Has Earned a Norris Trophy Nomination

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Contract Update

Mark Spector and Bob Stauffer had a conversation on Oilers Now this week about what Ryan Nugent-Hopkins might be worth after taking a look at what Tyler Toffoli has done with the Montreal Canadiens this season. Seeing Nugent-Hopkins as a left-winger on this Oilers team moving forward, both asked what the forward was actually worth on the open market?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Oilers
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Stauffer said he thinks Nugent-Hopkins could get $6 million times six years. Noting that the Columbus Blue Jackets might be looking at the player, Nugent-Hopkins could also be an option for the Seattle Kraken, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. Stauffer wonders if the Oilers would offer him $5 million x 8 years just to combat the fact the market will pay more than the Oilers really want to. Stauffer said, “I think he’s getting north of five and a half.”

Spector agreed that the Oilers should try to bring him back, but argued, If Toffoli’s making four and a quarter, I’m not sure why RNH makes any more than five and a quarter…”

Related: NHL Rumors: Hurricanes, Kings, Bruins, Jets, Penguins, More

Oilers Leaning Towards the 7-3-1 Expansion Draft Route

According to Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic, the Oilers are leaning towards protecting more forwards than defenseman at the NHL Expansion Draft. He writes:

The Oilers were thought to be leaning toward protecting eight skaters and a goalie a few weeks ago. They will almost certainly go the 7-3-1 route now. I’m told by a team source who has knowledge of the current protection plans that the only way they’ll revert to an eight-skater plan is if pending UFA defencemen Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie are re-signed ahead of the expansion draft. That seems unlikely.

source – ‘What I’m hearing about the Oilers’ plans for the Kraken draft: Protected list, possible re-signings and more’ – Daniel Nugent-Bowman – The Athletic – 06/08-2021
Oscar Klefbom Edmonton Oilers
Oscar Klefbom, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

What this likely means is that the Oilers will leave Oscar Klefbom, Caleb Jones and William Lagesson unprotected while choosing to protect a combination of Josh Archibald, Tyler Benson, Zack Kassian and/or Jujhar Khaira. If the Oilers go 7-3-1 and don’t sign Nugent-Hopkins before the draft, they’ll need to trade for another forward.

The question now will be, why not just wait until after the expansion draft to sign Adam Larsson and Nugent-Hopkins? The theory is the Oilers could have handshake deals in place with these players and then make the deals official afterward. As free agents at the time of the draft, protecting them is not required.

But, it sounds like a Larsson extension might come prior to the draft as the Oilers are a bit concerned opening up a free agency window for him, even if brief, means they could lose him.

As for what the Oilers do about the goaltending, Nugent-Bowman wrote: “Goaltending is uncertain right now. They could make a trade in the next few weeks. IF they re-sign Smith ahead of the expansion draft, such a deal *might* come with protection guarantees.. He adds, “Skinner is a good candidate for protection, as I mentioned. Again, he doesn’t require waivers, so that’s only another plus.”