Author of the article:

Kurt Leavins

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland talks to the Lindsay family during the public visitation of Ted Lindsay at Little Caesars Arena on March 8, 2019 in Detroit.
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland talks to the Lindsay family during the public visitation of Ted Lindsay at Little Caesars Arena on March 8, 2019 in Detroit. Photo by Dave Reginek-Pool /Getty Images

The NHL off-season action has ramped up significantly over the past couple days. The rosters of all teams, including expansion Seattle and the other 31 teams including the Oilers, will take shape quickly, now.


Some of those details including a projected Oilers protected list are in this new edition of…

9 Things

9. Caleb Jones will indeed be protected by the Chicago Black Hawks. I wish the kid well. He never did grab the opportunity here. LHD Prospects Philip Broberg and Dmitri Samorukov are fast developing right on his heels. And I wasn’t at all sure Jones saw Canada as his permanent hockey home.

8. There is no question Kyle Turris failed to live up to any expectations with the Oilers in Year 1. But I’ll give him credit: The guy never made any excuses and since has decided to spend the off-season in Edmonton training, in hopes of rebounding. I respect that. I hope he proves everyone (including me) wrong.

7. Defenceman Ethan Bear is also back training in Edmonton. Between a contract distraction in 2020, COVID-related lockdowns that interrupted everything, concussion and a summer training regime in the Okanagan, Bear never really did get on track last year. Ethan is now back to the scene of the off-season that led to his breakthrough 2019-20. A good sign.

Article content

6. I think it was Jonathan Willis that first floated the possibility of Alex Chiasson as a late-Summer re-signing in Edmonton for the right price. The suggestion has merit. Through our Cult of Hockey Game Grades process, I charted many of Chiasson’s games closely. He regularly had a positive impact on games, very rarely a negative one, and he’s a good pro.

5. I mentioned in this space last week that Mike Smith had a contract offer in front of him from the Edmonton Oilers and that the 2 sides were negotiating. I then heard Elliotte Friedman and Bob Stauffer discuss Friday that it’s a conversation over term. The client would prefer 2 years. But just 1 year allows for a bonus structure which helps keep the salary lower. I think it ultimately gets done.

Article content

4. There are some people who are convinced that Adam Larsson is all but locked up in Edmonton, too. SportsNet’sMark Spector mused Saturday about a 4-year, $3.9m contract. I don’t disagree with him on the projected range on either salary or term. But I do get mixed signals on the status of the negotiation. Once source that would have an opportunity to speak with both sides in that negotiation thinks Larsson may in fact hit the UFA market, if for no other reason that to see which way the wind is blowing. When Philadelphia acquired Ryan Ellis on Saturday, I believe that subtracted Larsson’s most likely suitor from the equation. But there could be others, including Seattle. Edmonton is also still talking with Tyson Barrie. I wonder if in the event that Larsson walks, does Barrie sign here instead and fill that hole at 2RD? The price tag may not be much different. I’ve reported in the past that Barrie believes there’s a fit for him in Edmonton. And he may not be seeing a potential payday like the one his strong 2020-21 offensive campaign would have typically attracted. Finally, based on some conversations I’ve had, I do not believe there’s a side-deal for Larsson, post-expansion. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong.

Article content

3. News came on Saturday that the Dallas Stars had inked Miro Heiskanen to an 8-year, $68M extension. The AVV will be $8.45m. I would keep this contract in mind when it comes time for Edmonton to lock up Darnell Nurse on a long-term deal. Heiskanen is a fabulous player. I’m not here to compare him and Nurse. But if you don’t think the 2 players will end up in neighboring postal codes when it comes to both money and term you’re in for a surprise. Heiskanen is younger and so has lots of time to get better still. But Nurse is also already a Top-pairing D-man who beats Heiskanen when it comes to things that contracts are often built upon: 5×5 offence, TOI, situational play, size, competitiveness, leadership, etc. I expect Nurse will get term (8 years) and if they really sharpen their pencils…perhaps $7.5m. But something in the 8’s for Nurse is not out of the question. It is always curious to me just exactly why some devalue Darnell so.

Article content

2. I found it curious that a significant chunk of the Edmonton fan base was so critical of Ken Holland last Spring for not spending assets in order to add more significant experience at the trade deadline. But now, when Holland adds a piece like Duncan Keith to the roster, he is roundly criticized for that. Especially considering that a guy like Keith would seem ideal for the post-season and comes with just a 2-year term. It’s risky to add a rental for picks. But it’s a little different when you are acquiring term. But I also struggled at the over-the-top outcry over the acquisition from a vocal minority. Don’t get me wrong. Fans get to fan. You’re welcome to be thrilled or disappointed with the moves your team makes. And I think most would have been better with it had Chicago retained some salary. And I get that. But the level of nasty ran unusually hot, especially from a small group that seemed to know everything that Ken Holland did and didn’t do in that negotiation. But did they really? How much do any of us regular guys actually know?

Article content

I grew up I hockey and played the game to a good level. Family of mine made it into the NHL. I’ve spent decades covering the game, in various roles and at a high (NHL) level. I’m university educated. In my professional life (my day job) I’ve been a Vice-President in an extremely successful multi-multi million-dollar company. So, I have a few handy attributes for a resume as a manager. But I would never hire me to be an NHL General Manager. I’d never even be a candidate. Why not? Well for starters I don’t have any of that specific brand of experience. I’ve been around enough to know there’s a hell of a lot of detail to it that isn’t always apparent. That it’s a lot harder gig than it looks, Etc. And besides, the 32 people who are G.M.’s in this league are way smarter than too many give them credit for. Spend some time with one of them, interview them. It’s “work” to keep up. In fact, I think that very experience provided me with some useful humility on the subject.

Article content

1.We will officially find out later this (Sunday) morning which 11 players the Edmonton Oilers will protect for the Seattle Expansion Draft list. General manager Ken Holland has stated that he will go 7-3-1. And I am not hearing any indication from anywhere that this will change. That doesn’t mean it won’t. But that seems very unlikely at this 11th hour. So…which names will be on Ken Holland’s list? I expect it to look quite a lot like this: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins,Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Zack Kassian and Josh Archibald up front. Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith and Ethan Bear will be there on the point. And I expect it will be Stuart Skinner in the nets. I don’t think there are any big surprises here. And I’ve seen numerous others report the same. I don’t believe I’m breaking any news here. No Adam Larsson, Tyson Barrie or Mike Smith as all 3 remain unsigned.

Article content

I think the list makes sense. The likely debates are over Kassian and Archibald. And I get the discussion. Both are well-established NHL-ers. I’m pretty sure either would be claimed. Archibald come at at a decent number. Kassian is pricier but brings a now-rare mix of skills. And both have trade value after the draft. Tyler Benson I have time for. But we still don’t know what he is. Nobody does. And Benson’s relative lack of foot speed makes his ability to crack an NHL lineup suspect. Some have asked why the the Oilers would protect Skinner over Alex Stalock. Well…if you were angry at Kassian and Archibald being protected over Benson? But then you argue that they should keep an older goalie who hasn’t played in over a calendar year? Instead of your #1 goalie prospect who you’ve invested all this time developing? Hmmm.

Who will get taken? Well, if Seattle builds from the back end out like I would, then a D-man is likely. As a result, the Oilers don’t lose Jones for nothing but perhaps a William Lagesson instead? My dark horse is Jujhar Khaira. And while I respect both players, neither’s absence would leave a gaping hole behind.

We’ll see…

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

Recently, at The Cult…

STAPLES: The Edmonton Oilers stand pat on the eve of expansion

McCURDY: Last minute, pre-expansion Oilers roster musings

LEAVINS: How Oilers players felt about the Keith trade

Edmonton Journal Headline News logo

Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.

By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300

CBD Oil, 9 Mesmerizing Examples Of Cannabinoid
Find out more