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Bear and Nugent-Hopkins Contract Talk

Now that the 2021 season has an official start date, the countdown to training camp begins. The Edmonton Oilers training camp starts on January 3rd, but if a player wants to be on the ice for day one, he needs to be in Edmonton by this Saturday, December 26th, due to quarantine and needing to have four negative tests in eight days. Ethan Bear isn’t in Edmonton yet, but I expect him to be here on Saturday, even without a contract.

He and his agent, Jason Davidson, would still have eight days to work out a deal, which is an eternity in contract negotiations.

“Bill Scott (Oilers assistant GM) has a really good relationship with Ethan’s agent (Davidson), so Bill has been the point person,” said Ken Holland when I asked about Bear’s contract status.

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“We’ve had numerous talks to this point, but we have to get after it now. I would like him in camp. I would like him signed and I’m sure the player and agent want the same thing. We have to find something that works for the player and the club. I’m prepared to do a one-, two- or three-year deal. We haven’t offered anything outside of that,” Holland said.

After some conversations, it is my understanding the Oilers have offered Bear one-year and three-year deals. I think Bear’s camp would prefer two over three years. Here are some recent comparisons that make sense.

Travis Dermott accepted his qualifying offer of $874,125, earlier this year, and he’s played three NHL seasons. Bear’s qualifying offer has expired, but it was even lower than Dermott’s. Bear might have to do what Tony DeAngelo did last year, when he accepted $50,000 more than his QO, signed a one-year deal at $925,000, and then had a great 2019/2020 season and signed a two-year deal at $4.8 million.

DeAngelo tallied 30 points in 61 games, and still only signed for $925,000 — and that was pre-COVID. Bear had 21 points in 71 games last season. He did play 21 minutes, but with Tyson Barrie on the team and Adam Larsson healthy to start, Bear will play less this season, which could be a benefit to him as playing more minutes is a challenge for many players.

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A one-year deal for Bear likely comes in around $900K to $1m.

There aren’t many players to compare to when looking at three-year deals, but @Phillippe Myers fits the criteria. He just signed a three-year extension with the Philadelphia Flyers with a $2.55 AAV. Myers is the same age as Bear. He’s played 71 NHL games to Bear’s 89. Myers had 4-12-16 in 50 games last season. He is huge at 6’5″ and 220 pounds, so he plays a different style than Bear. Both are right shot defenders.

Bear faced more elite players last season, but will that continue this year? I’m very curious to see how Dave Tippett deploys him this season. Will Tyson Barrie end up being paired with Darnell Nurse and play the most minutes, while Bear plays with either Caleb Jones or Kris Russell?

And today Erik Cernak signed a three-year deal with Tampa Bay with a 2.95m AAV. PuckPedia has the details here.

Bear had an excellent season, and he and his agent will want to capitalize on that, while the Oilers will be looking to project where Bear will be in three years. Where do they see him fitting in their depth chart in the future? That is the challenge on a multi-year deal.

The easiest deal might be a one-year deal, but if Bear agrees to that they need to do it quickly. He can’t afford to miss any of training camp if he hopes to have a solid season. In a normal season players who arrive late in camp, or the regular season, are always playing catchup and rarely have a good year. If Bear wants to be as productive as last season, he needs to be at camp on January 3rd. The Oilers need him there as well.

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It is why I think both sides will reach an agreement.

RNH CONTRACT…

Mar 3, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) in action during the game between the Stars and the Oilers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is fan favourite in Edmonton. He is the longest serving active player on the team as he enters his 10th season with the Oilers. It seems like only yesterday that a baby-faced Nugent-Hopkins scored a hat-trick in his third NHL game, because he still has his boyish looks.

He’s played the 15th most games in Oilers history with 604. He is ninth in goals with 169, 13th in assists with 274 and 11th in points with 443. He should pass Shawn Horcoff (447) and Ales Hemsky (477) this season and move into ninth spot all time. He’s had a very solid career with Edmonton.

Yesterday, Reid Wilkins asked Holland about Nugent-Hopkins’ contract negotiations as he is set to become a UFA on July 28th.

“His agent, Rick Valette, and I had many conversations the two weeks right around October the 9th, a couple weeks prior and a week after. The market place has changed so much, that basically our conversations have ended,” said Holland. “I would hope that at some point in time, once we get running, we can pick up and see if we can find a solution. I’ve told Rick, my hope is to find a solution to keep Nuge in an Oilers uniform. That is my goal, but the deal has to work for Ryan and work for the Oilers.”

That had many, mainly the Nation’s own Baggedmilk, quite concerned. Could their beloved Nugent-Hopkins leave town?

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Anything is possible, but I’d be surprised if he leaves. He likes it in Edmonton and the Oilers like him. He is the third-best forward on the team, and I think the move to the wing will extend his career a few years as he won’t have to battle with down low as often against bigger, stronger centremen.

He is the Oilers’ most skilled winger. He turns 28 in April and should have many productive seasons in the future. I don’t see a major reason for either side to rush into negotiations. The financial landscape of the NHL has changed. Maybe it will only be one year, but what if it lasts three or four before players aren’t paying 20% Escrow? Right now only four NHL teams will have fans at games to start this season, and it will only be between 3000-5000.

The NHL’s revenue stream will take a major hit, unless fans will be allowed in arenas in April, May, June and July. It makes sense for teams to wait until after the season to see what their business model looks like, and for an established top-line player like Nugent-Hopkins there isn’t a major rush to get a deal. Many teams will be interested in a scoring winger. I think term might be the bigger challenge than the actual salary.

While Bear needs to get a deal done right away, I see RNH in a position to be patient. Ultimately, the Oilers will want to sign both of them, but the urgency to sign them is quite different. Ultimate I think RNH remains an Oiler, it just might take longer than Baggedmilk or other fans want.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Thank you Emil and Rej for their respective bids on the Cabin rental donated by the Kevin Lowe and Karen Percy-Lowe and the laptop from Oil Country Computers. Awesome.

DAY 16: A Furnace or AC Unit courtesy of Legacy Heating and Cooling

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There are two items up for grabs, and the winning bid can choose which one they want.

This is what you receive with the furnace:

  • One installed Coleman CP9C 97.5%+ Energy Star High Efficiency Modulating Variable-Speed ECM Gas Furnace
  • Comes with permit and inspection fees
  • Ecobee 5 Thermostat or Nest Thermostat
  • Furnace and Duct Cleaning Package
  • Removal and disposal of old furnace
  • 10 year Parts/Labour – Lifetime Heat Exchanger on Furnace

Here is what you get with the AC Unit:

  • One installed Goodman GSX16 16 Seer Air Conditioner /w Evaporator coil, pad/bracket, electrical
  • Comes with permit and inspection fees
  • Ecobee 5 Thermostat or Nest Thermostat
  • UV Light Coil Purifier
  • 10 year Parts/Labour/Compressor on Air Conditioner

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. We are supporting the MS Society today.

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