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Monday Mailbag – Darnell Nurse’s next contract

Welcome, friends, to a Christmas week edition of the Mailbag which means we’ve got an opportunity for you to not only learn something but to also avoid your families for a few minutes. In this week’s Mailbag, we take a look at Darnell Nurse’s next contract, what gift Santa should have left under the Oilers’ tree, and how to survive the holiday season with your in-laws. As always, I need questions for next week so if you have something you’d like to ask you can email me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter. Have a great week, everyone!

Feb 27, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) warms up before the start of their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

1) Travis asks – I’ve noticed rumours and rumblings going around Twitter about Darnell Nurse’s next contract coming in around $7 million and, to me, that is far too much for what he provides offensively. What is your best guess on where he lands with his next deal? Should the Oilers consider trading him?

Jason Gregor:

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The Oilers don’t have enough proven NHL players. I would be hesitant to trade him as then they’d spend many years trying to find a replacement. I don’t see him getting much more than Josh Morrissey. I’m sure his agent will look at Jacob Trouba as a comparison, but that is the top-end and I don’t see him getting that much.

Robin Brownlee:

I think anything more than the $6.25 million Josh Morrissey is getting constitutes an overpay, but that doesn’t mean Nurse and agent Anton Thun won’t be able to push Ken Holland closer to $7 million over eight years. That’s the likely range. GM’s should always consider trading players but doing so obviously hinges on the need and the return. The blueline looks thin to me if you take Nurse out of it.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

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I still believe that the Morrisey deal is a really strong comparable when it comes to a potential long-term deal for Darnell Nurse but I’m not sure if the Oiler’s current cap situation will allow them to do that. I could see a 3-4 year deal for around $4.5 or $5 million per season that will allow the Oilers to save some money now and allow Darnell Nurse to maximize his potential UFA years. I would love to see him here long term but I’m not sure if it’s going to happen this summer and I definitely wouldn’t do it if the price tag was $7 million a season.

Christian Pagnani:

Trending towards a shorter term deal. Holland can’t give Darnell Nurse $7 million or more. Sorry, I think Nurse is a solid top-four defenceman, but he’s not worth that much. At some point, you have to ask yourself if the money exceeds his on-ice value.

Baggedmilk:

I really like Darnell Nurse but not at $7 million per season. Obviously, Darryl is a very important part of the defence but we have to look at the holes on the roster and realize that they need cap space to plug them up. To me, $7 million is too rich but what the hell do I know?

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2) Clay asks – Do you believe that having Taylor Hall land in Arizona adds any pressure on Ken Holland to make a move to keep up?

Jason Gregor:

Not really. There are three guaranteed playoff spots in the Pacific. Even if Arizona pulls away, which isn’t a guarantee, that still leaves two spots to battle Vegas, Calgary and Vancouver. I’d be surprised if Holland panics due to what Arizona did. No doubt he’d like to add a scoring forward, but he’d rather do it with a package centered around Jesse Puljujarvi instead of their first round pick in 2020.

Robin Brownlee:

No. You can’t manage based on what other teams do — at least not in the terms of keeping up. Teams have different needs and holes to fill. While the Oilers could and probably should be in the market for a scoring winger, Holland makes that move because he needs that player, not because Arizona got that type of player.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

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I’m not sure if it has a direct impact on how Ken Holland will approach the next few months. What will likely have more of an effect is the way the team has been playing as of late. They clearly need some scoring help and regardless of who the Arizona Coyotes went out and acquired, Holland needs to do something to address that issue.

Christian Pagnani:

Nope. I’m convinced this year was a write off anyway. If anything, their start puts more pressure on Holland, but I think they’ll stand pat aside from a minor addition or two.

Baggedmilk:

Frankly, if the rumour that Holland offered Jones, Puljujarvi, and a pick is true then I think that Shero screwed up by not taking it. But am I upset? No, not really. Then again, I’ve been an Oilers fans for my whole life so I’m used to getting hurt.

Nov 24, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

3) Rob asks – When I look at the Islanders on paper, I don’t see a team (apart from goaltending) which is better than the Oilers. But when I watch the Islanders play, I don’t see nearly as many breakdowns leading to odd-man rushes or high quality scoring chances. Tippett was known for running the same kind of detail oriented defensive teams in Arizona as the current Islanders team but lately, I’ve seen all kinds of stupid mental errors from the Oilers – ultra-long shifts from the top line, brutal line changes, puck watching in the d-zone, etc. Isn’t this on the coaching staff? Is it just me or is Tippett not holding the top guys accountable for their brutally long shifts that lead to goals against? It’s killing me to watch this sloppy play.

Jason Gregor:

At what point is it on the players to be consistent and want to win. I find way too often the blame shifts to the coaches. Tippett doesn’t want them turning pucks over at the offensive blueline. The players have to figure out when to make the risky play and when to make the safe, boring play and wait for another shift to get a scoring chance. They have proven they can play that way on the road, so now it is up to them to find the consistency and willingness to do it at home. I think Tippett has instilled many coaching changes as far as moving pucks up the middle, different PK formation and it has worked. But the mental errors are on the players. The coach can’t hold their hand on the ice.

Robin Brownlee:

Players play the game. Coaches don’t teach players to make mental errors or make “brutal” line changes. Tippett cannot physically remove McDavid or Draisaitl from the ice. I suspect you’d be unhappy if Tippett scratched McDavid and Draisaitl for a game or drastically reduced their ice time to send a message that they’d better listen to him — that would hold especially true after a loss. You asked this question during a bad streak before the Oilers beat Montreal, so I suspect that has something to do with your outlook as well.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Well, they have a better third-line centre and better depth on the wings. So that’s massive. Also, goaltending is huge. That can single-handedly win you games and that’s happened a lot for the Isles. I don’t think Dave Tippett isn’t holding the top players accountable, I just that he needs to overplay them if he wants to win the game and since those guys are being overplayed and realize they need to score for the team to win, they’re cheating for offence a little. I don’t blame Tippett or McDavid or Draisaitl. It’s just the reality of the situation that the Oilers are in. Once they get scoring help, things will change. I also think people are overreacting to one ‘bad’ play from McDavid against the Blues, which I don’t even think is as bad as people are making it out to be.

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Christian Pagnani:

We always have to consider if what we’re seeing is accurate or heavily influenced by something we’ve been told. I don’t doubt the Islanders are good defensively. I think coaching is the hardest thing to analyze and a coach’s impact is hard to quantify. The Oilers seem a bit more structured, but I don’t see a great roster over in New York. There’s also a chicken and egg situation with their goaltenders. Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov, and Robin Lehner the season before, have been beyond great, but is that a product of Trotz’s system or are they just conveniently good and that makes everyone else look better? I’m a believer that the Oilers biggest problems come from a lacklustre support group up front and on defence.

Baggedmilk:

While I agree that Tippett leans heavily on his best players, wouldn’t you if you were in the same position? That said, I do wonder when we’ll start seeing the lockdown defence that he was so famous for while coaching the Coyotes. Dare to dream?

4) Stacey asks – Pretend you’re Santa and your job is to give the Oilers one gift that they desperately need that is not a specific player or position: What would that gift be? Mine would be consistency at even strength as I feel the ice has been tilted when Connor and Leon are not out there.

Jason Gregor:

A shooter mentality. When in a good shooting spot. Shoot.

Robin Brownlee:

Scoring depth — which speaks to your concern.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

My answer is the ability to win a trade! If they can make a really strong move between now and the trade deadline then a lot of their problems will be solved!

Christian Pagnani:

The ability to give their bottom-six the hands of Wayne Gretzky.

Baggedmilk:

The ability to convince the team that we’re still in October or November.

5) Allen T. asks – I have my in-laws staying with me for the holidays this year and they are notorious for buying my family gifts that no one wants or needs. How can the kids and I approach this problem? What is the key to faking it through the annual “why did you buy this for me” extravaganza?

Jason Gregor:

First world problems.  Have your kids smile and they can learn you might not always get what you want in life. Now if you are really upset about it then give them a gift want or need…record their reaction. Then in a few months have a chat about how their presence is enough…they don’t have to get presents. Also, keep the video so in the future when you’re the “In-Laws” you don’t repeat the same error.

Robin Brownlee:

Really? Have you ever mentioned this to them? That would be a start. Until you do, smile, thank them for the gift and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Meh, that’s a pretty weak problem. Smile, say thank you, and stop being a dick. Really hate it? Donate it after.

Christian Pagnani:

I find that’s most holiday gifts. Me and my brothers discussed this and decided instead of buying things that we don’t really need we’d all just go out to dinner somewhere and spend time with each other. That way no one’s feelings are hurt and you’re emphasizing being around them as the most important part of the holidays.

Baggedmilk:

Here’s the key: Look excited, play with/use the gift as much as you can on Christmas day, and stuff it in a random drawer as soon as they leave. Problem solved.

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