I hope everyone had a good long weekend, but it’s time to get back to work with a brand new Mailbag! This week, we’re looking at Nugent-Hopkins’ new deal, Adam Larsson, the Duncan Keith rumours, and more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Mar 27, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates a first period goal assisted by forward Connor McDavid (97), his 100th point of the season at Rogers Place.
1) Keith asks – What was everyone’s opinion on the RNH deal for both term and dollars? I thought the cap hit was about right but that the contract is a few years too long.
Jason Gregor:
You weren’t going to get him at the cap hit on a shorter term. Holland got the cap hit he wanted, and RNH got the term he wanted. If RNH is still a productive bottom-six forward in years 6-8 then the deal won’t be killer. Tampa Bay had Tyler Johnson at a $5m cap hit in their bottom six last season. (He is there this year as well, but TB also had the luxury of Kucherov injuries to afford him.). If RNH can still be effective on special teams and contribute a bit 5×5 it won’t be a killer contract.
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Robin Brownlee:
Likewise. It’s a deal that meets in the middle. Holland gave up term and RNH gave up AAV.
Cam Lewis:
It makes sense for both sides. There aren’t many free agents on the open market who are a better fit for the Oilers than RNH given his positional versatility. They’re going to get some ugly seasons at the end of that eight-year deal but they’re also going to get some bargain years at that cap hit.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I love the deal for both sides. Nugent-Hopkins gets more than $40 million and a long-term deal that could keep him an Oiler for the rest of his career while Ken Holland and the Oilers get him signed to a very, very reasonable cap hit. This really does seem like a major win for both sides and I get the sense that pretty much the entire fan base really likes it as well. It’s a win-win-win.
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Baggedmilk:
I. FUNKIN. LOVED. IT. I mean, how could I not? That said, I never in a million years expected an eight-year extension, but I was obviously thrilled to see it. The show goes on.
Jan 20, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) battles for position with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds (24) in front of goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) in the first period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
2) Yves asks – Now that the Nugent-Hopkins contract is done, do you think Adam Larsson gets extended before the expansion draft deadline as well?
Jason Gregor:
He should. I’d argue his deal is more important to the short-term success of the team as they have no one on the team or in the system who can play his role. The salary and term are pretty clear based on recent signings. A four-year deal between $3.8m and $4.1m seems very reasonable.
Robin Brownlee:
Yes. Expect the kind of numbers that have been speculated on — something within 100K on either side of $4M.
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Cam Lewis:
Nobody else in the league seems to be rushing to sign players for the expansion draft so I’m not sure why this is a thing the Oilers are doing.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Honestly, it might depend on what the Oilers do on the trade market. Personally, I would wait on extending Larsson anyways. If you keep him unsigned, you can then protect Caleb Jones and that should be a no-brainer. Jones has value and I wouldn’t want to lose that in the expansion draft for nothing. If the Larsson deal gets done before that though, I bet it’s for either three or four years with a cap-hit close to $4 million.
Baggedmilk:
I wish they would wait until after the expansion draft to get it done, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m betting on a contract similar to the one he’s currently on in terms of dollars but how much term he gets is what interest me most.
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Apr 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) looks to pass the puck against the Nashville Predators during the first period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
3) Steph asks – Edmonton is rumoured to be interested in Duncan Keith and I’m trying to understand how it makes sense given his age and contract number. Unless they’re taking James Neal back in return, does it make sense to bring in a veteran on the decline?
Jason Gregor:
It makes sense to bring in a veteran D-man for sure. Is Keith the right one, is the question. If they trade him for Neal then it means no buyout for Neal, which benefits Edmonton’s cap hit in 2023/2024 and 2024/2025 since a Neal buyout would be $1.91m of dead cap. However, it wouldn’t free up $3.8m this season. Keith’s WAR numbers aren’t very good the past few seasons. How much of that is due to the team and who he was playing with and how much is him? That is up to the scouts to decipher through video.
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This past season, he only played 27% of his ice time with his most common D partner. Continuity on the blue line matters a lot. I think Keith’s experience would help in the playoffs. If he had one year remaining on his deal I’d be much more comfortable making the trade. The second year is a concern, however, Keith has always been in unreal shape. He can play a lot of minutes, but in Edmonton with Nurse on the left side, Keith wouldn’t have to play 20+min/game. Maybe less is more with him and playing fewer minutes will allow his experience and skill (he is a future Hall of Famer) to be better used. It is a risk, no question, but I think Keith would be better than his WAR numbers suggest.
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Robin Brownlee:
Haven’t seen enough of Keith in recent years to have a good take and his numbers aren’t flattering. Has to be some salary retained or a bad contract going the other way for it to make any sense at all. How much is experience worth if he can’t get it done on the ice anymore?
Cam Lewis:
This is a great move if you’re trying to win the 2012 Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, it’s almost 2022.
Keith is far from good at this stage of his career. Can he be fine as a third-pair mentor for Evan Bouchard, playing like 17 minutes a night? Sure, probably. But then his $5,538,462 cap hit is much too rich for the role.
The only way this makes sense is if Chicago is taking back @James Neal in a one-for-one, which I doubt they would do because they want to open up cap room to acquire @Seth Jones, or they retain salary and take back @Mikko Koskinen, which is probably more likely.
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Another option, of course, is Chicago sending Edmonton assets for taking Keith’s contract. A few years ago, the Leafs paid Carolina a first-round pick in order to take on one year of Patrick Marleau after a solid 37-point season. That’s the type of thing Ken Holland should be looking for.
It’s shocking that people are viewing Keith as an asset the Oilers are trying to acquire rather than a burden they’re taking off the hands of the Blackhawks that they should be compensated for.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Even if they take back James Neal, I don’t love the trade. I’d rather buy Neal out and use the savings to go sign Jamie Oleksiak, who is a better player than Duncan Keith. The only way I’d be happy with a Duncan Keith trade is if the Hawks retain 50% of his salary and then also give the Oilers either a draft pick or a discount on a player like Dylan Strome.
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Baggedmilk:
Maybe if he came with a time machine. The numbers suggest that Duncan Keith is playing like a guy that’s 38 years old. Do I like it? No. I get the experience angle and all that, but if the guy can’t play anymore then what are we really doing here? Unless it’s Neal going back the other way then I don’t understand this one at all.
Photo Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
4) Oilers fan in Van asks – The Stanley Cup Finals are well underway and my question for everyone is how they’re seeing the matchup between the Habs and Lightning so far?
Jason Gregor:
As expected. Tampa was going to roll them this series. They are too deep. I thought it would go five games at the most.
Robin Brownlee:
Carey Price was Montreal’s only chance to make it a real series and he hasn’t been good enough. Looks like a Tampa Bay sweep now.
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Cam Lewis:
Montreal is pretty bad and Carey Price couldn’t save them from the league’s best team. No surprises here. I thought they would win a game or two, but I would have been shocked if they beat the Lightning in the series.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
It’s the Tampa Bay Lightning proving that they are undoubtedly the best team in the NHL. It’s as simple as that.
Baggedmilk:
Honestly, I thought Montreal would be able to win a couple of games but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, huh? A sweep in the finals would hurt.
5) Jeremy asks – Simple question: How did everyone manage with the heat?
Jason Gregor:
Went to the dugout at my sister’s place, went to the outdoor pool at least eight times and luckily we have air conditioning. First house I’ve ever owned with AC, and it made the past week bearable.
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Robin Brownlee:
AC. No worries.
Cam Lewis:
Drink plenty of water.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
No lie, I moved back in with my parents for five days because they have AC and my condo doesn’t. It was a great choice.
Baggedmilk:
I have one of those portable AC units so I would just park myself in front of that thing most of the time. I would also sit in my dog’s pool and I didn’t care at all that he was confused about it.

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