When free agency opens tomorrow at 10:00 am local time, Edmonton Oilers General Manager Ken Holland will officially cross a major item off of his shopping list. The club will sign F Zach Hyman to a seven-year contract that will carry a cap hit around the $5,500,000 mark. Once that deal is finalized, Holland will get to work on other priorities.
One of those priorities is extending the contract of defenseman Darnell Nurse. Nurse has one season remaining on a two-year ‘bridge deal’ that he signed on February 10th, 2020. The deal carries a cap hit of $5,600,000, which proved to be a bargain for the defenseman in year one.
Nurse appeared in all 56 regular season games for the Oilers in 2020-21, scoring 36 points (16 g, 20 a). It was the third straight season of his career where he was on pace to eclipse the 40 point mark, and he took a massive step forward in replacing the injured Oscar Klefbom.
Holland has been open about his desire to extend Nurse this summer, allowing him to plan his budget for the coming seasons and to avoid a distracting negotiation during the season.
Nurse is eligible to sign an extension tomorrow, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is reporting that the sides are already making headway on that front.
In addition to free agency, we’re also on the lookout for extensions. Hearing EDM and Darnell Nurse working on what is believed to be a four-year deal. The defenseman — who had a terrific season — has one year remaining before UFA eligibility.
The four-year term is extremely interesting, and caused quite a stir in Oil Country on Tuesday. Leon Draisaitl’s contract has four years remaining, while captain Connor McDavid’s deal runs for five more seasons. If Nurse signs a four-year extension, he’ll turn UFA at the same time as McDavid.
There have been numerous reports in recent days that Holland and his staff see a four-year window to “go all in” for a Stanley Cup Championship. This contract would fall perfectly into said window, and would allow Nurse to contemplate his future at the age 31.
It’s possible that Nurse prefers the four-year term in case Draisaitl and McDavid elect to leave town. If that’s the case, Nurse can leave at 31 and still have good years left to chase a Cup elsewhere.
There’s also the financial component to things. The salary cap is expected to rise in three or four years, and Nurse can cash in then as well when the financial situation of the league looks better.
Regardless, Nurse is a core piece for the Oilers, and getting another contract done is a priority. Whatever the term is on this next deal, the Oilers will have Nurse locked in for their perceived window. Term won’t necessarily matter if things go the way the Oilers expect.
Getzlaf Coming To Edmonton?
Another one of Holland’s priorities is to add a third-line center capable of winning faceoffs, killing penalties and outscoring opponents. The ideal target is center Ryan Getzlaf, but not many believed he would hit the market.
Now, Getzlaf hitting the market seems like it is inevitable. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was the first to report that the Oilers are on the list for the veteran pivot. He tweeted the following earlier on Tuesday.
Potential fits for Ryan Getzlaf if indeed he leaves Anaheim via free agency … Edmonton, Montréal, Dallas, Boston.
LeBrun later appeared on TSN’s ‘Insider Trading‘ and went a step further, naming the Oilers as the team at the top of the list for Getzlaf.
“It is absolutely a possibility that he does leave Anaheim,” LeBrun said. “Among the teams I’m told that would be potential fits for him, the Edmonton Oilers I think would top the list. The Montreal Canadiens are in there and also south of the border, Boston & Dallas would be other potential opportunities here for Ryan Getzlaf. This would be a very emotional decision if he does leave Anaheim.”
If Getzlaf is open to coming to Edmonton, he’d be a perfect fit for the Oilers. I looked at the fit earlier this month as part of the annual ‘Off-Season Targets‘ series.
Getzlaf managed just 17 points (5 g, 12 a) in 48 games with the Ducks this past season, the worst output of his career by a wide margin.
Even though the points weren’t there, Getzlaf was actually a strong possession player on one of the league’s worst teams. He posted a 51.75% Corsi For and 50.90% Fenwick For. It was the fifth best Corsi rating on the entire team.
With Getzlaf on the ice at even strength, the puck was moving in the right direction. The Ducks got 50.17% of the shots, 51.85% of the scoring chances and 47.81% of the high-danger scoring chances with Getzlaf at even strength. They managed only 40% of the goals, but Getzlaf did have an xGF% (expected goals) of 49.57%. He was certainly running in bad luck.
If Holland wants to add another veteran to the locker room while also giving his team a little more size and toughness, Getzlaf is a perfect addition. It also helps that his xGF% of 49.57% would tower over most of the club’s bottom-six from a season ago.
(All numbers via Natural Stat Trick)