Welcome to a new feature called 10 in 1. It is 10 thoughts in one place. Some days it will be questions, random thoughts, non-sports topics and quotes. Let’s get to it.
1. Yesterday Bob McKenzie mentioned the real possibility of a short-term deal for Darnell Nurse. I’ve felt all season his contract wouldn’t be as difficult to sign as some felt. He wants to be in Edmonton. He is very close with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. He knows that the upside of the future with those two, and a two-year deal with an AAV of $5.5 to $5.8 million, is still a good deal. Yes, there is a risk that in two years he could command a massive raise, but without PP time, I don’t see it being that significant. Jacob Trouba got overpaid, and using that contact as a comparison wouldn’t be a “best-case” scenario. I’m bullish on Nurse. He brings a lot, and he still has room to improve. He is also an underrated leader on this team. He is vocal and as this team becomes a consistent playoff team, the intangibles start to matter. You need team cohesiveness. You need someone who is willing to stand up and say the uncomfortable message, and Nurse has that personality.
2. I could see a two-year deal for Ethan Bear as well. Cap space is a factor, no question, but I also think Ken Holland will see how Bear performs down the stretch and into the playoffs as the games become more difficult. I think he can handle it, but games in a playoff race and then into the postseason are a different animal. A long-term deal for Bear would likely have to start with at least a $4m AAV, and to make that work Kris Russell would have to be moved. I know they would like to make that happen, but until it does I don’t think we will see a Bear extension. Holland has spoken often about maneuvering the cap, and has spoken openly about how you often overpay for UFAs, even if they are your own. Bear is still an RFA, so I think the chance of a bridge deal for him is still as likely as a long-term pact.
3. Could Chris Tierney be pried out of Ottawa? He turns 26 on July 1st, he’s an RFA this summer and he is in the final year of a $2.9million AAV. He has 10-17-27 playing third line minutes for the Senators. Nick Bonino costs too much, $4.1m, plus the Predators aren’t out of the playoff race. Jean-Gabriel Pageau will also cost a lot, and I’m leery that this is his best offensive season and you are buying at the peak of his value. Ray Ferraro texted me about Tierney. He really likes his game and mentioned he might be the third line centre to look at.
4. If you like to read I highly recommend The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams, by Sam Walker. He looked at the greatest sports teams of all time. I learned a lot about some players I didn’t know much about and their teams. Of course there are some teams I disagreed with, but that is what makes sports so awesome: the ability to debate things. But what made the book so great was it focused on leadership, and how often what we perceive as leadership isn’t how it unfolds, but also you can’t underestimate the importance of good leadership on any team, or business. It was a great read.
5. Alex Ovechkin is amazing. He scored a hat-trick last night and now has 40 goals this season. It is the 11th time in his career he’s scored 40. Only Wayne Gretzky (12) has more 40-goal campaigns. Ovie needs 10 goals in the final 28 games to reach 50 for the ninth time in his career, which will tie him with Gretzky and Mike Bossy for most 50-goal seasons. He is two goals shy of becoming the eighth player to score 700 and he now needs only 196 goals to tie Gretzky — and 197 will make him the all-time leader with 895. I think he will break it.
He is on pace to score 21 more goals this season. Let’s say he slows down a bit and scores 17. That leaves him 180 away from the record.
He can score 45 next year.
He will score 40 in 2022.
Then 34 in 2023
31 in 2024
30 in 2025 at the age of 39.
It is more than doable for him.
6. Unless the Montreal Canadiens get hot in the next 19 days they will likely be a seller at the deadline and I’m guessing many teams will call about Ilya Kovalchuk. He looks reborn with the Habs. He was all over the ice last night playing over 20 minutes. He has 5-5-10 in 13 games with the Habs, and I was completely wrong about how much he could offer a team when they signed him. He looks great, and if I’m Ken Holland I’d look at him as a rental. His $700K contact makes him easy to acquire salary cap wise, and his speed hasn’t been an issue at all. He’s a proven playoff performer and he is a shooter. I’d be interested in seeing what he looks like on Connor McDavid’s wing.
7. I also recommend reading Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines and Beautiful Boy. Nic Sheff wrote Tweak and his father wrote Beautiful Boy. Sheff’s brutally honest portrayal about his addiction to drugs was intense, but something I’d want my 16-24 year old kids to read. And then his father, David, wrote Beautiful Boy from his perspective as a parent. It’s raw, and very enlightening about addiction. If you are your child is battling addiction I recommend both. I’d read Tweak first and then Beautiful Boy.
8. The Calgary Flames are -24 in goal differential having been outscored 141-165, and now they might be without their captain Mark Giordano for the rest of the season, if the reports about a torn hamstring are true. That would be a huge blow for them. It might make GM Brad Treliving look to acquire a D-man at the deadline.
9. The Oilers didn’t have much energy last night, but I don’t think they played poorly. They just didn’t have much zip.
They had more OZ possession time than the Coyotes at 8:54 to 6:25.
Shots from the slot were even at 15 each.
Oilers had the advantage in controlled entries into the Ozone, 45-30, and in controlled exits out of Dzone 78-54.
They just couldn’t finish. Mikko Koskinen was excellent in the first period and didn’t have a chance on the Conor Garland goal or the goal deflected off of Larsson.
10. The good news was Vancouver, Vegas and Calgary lost, but the bad news was Edmonton missed a chance to gain ground on the Canucks and get some separation from the other Pacific foes. Edmonton isn’t going to win every game. I didn’t see many bad habits creep into their game last night. It was just one of those games where the emotional tank seemed low. They have to ensure they defeat a depleted San Jose Sharks team tomorrow though.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
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