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Oilers notes: No quick remedy to Darnell Nurse contract impasse

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Unsigned defenceman Darnell Nurse didn’t want his nose pressed up against the glass at the first Edmonton Oilers practice Friday so flew back to his summer home in Ontario before the team’s fitness and physical testing Thursday.

The Oilers have offered a two-year bridge deal to the defenceman, reportedly for at least $3 million a season, but Nurse, who averaged the second most minutes (22:14) on the Oilers blue line last season to Oscar Klefbom’s 22:50, presumably wants north of that.

How much north? Maybe there’s $500,000 difference, with both sides dug in.

P.K. Subban got his $5.75 million, two-year bridge deal in Montreal in 2013.

When Jake Trouba got one in Winnipeg in 2017, it was $6 million over two years.

But the landscape has changed and bridge deals might be in the $3.5 mil a year range. Vegas hasn’t signed Shea Theodore and Winnipeg hasn’t signed fellow defender Josh Morrissey either yet to possible two-year bridge contracts, so it’s a waiting game for those teams too.

“We have a disagreement on what Darnell’s value is and at this time there’s no meeting of the minds,” said Nurse’s agent Anton Thun, who feels there’s no reason for Nurse to stay in Edmonton now.

“He’s not under contract with the Oilers. He’s gone back to train where he did all summer, training in the same rink and gym. He can skate with a university or junior team. He won’t be skating by himself,” said Thun, who doesn’t feel Nurse, because of his age (24) is losing that much by not being in camp right now.

“If he didn’t know who his defence partners were or didn’t know the team, it would be important to be on the ice learning the ropes but this is his fourth year in the organization.”

Trouba missed 13 games before signing. That’s not what Thun has in mind.

“We don’t want this turning into Trouba, but we strongly disagree with Edmonton’s assessment of the marketplace today,” said Thun, who doesn’t think it’s “a coincidence” that neither Nurse, nor Theodore, nor Morrissey has signed yet.

“There’s enough indicators to what Darnell does for the Edmonton Olers, irrespective of what Theodore or Morrissey does for Vegas and Winnipeg.

“It’s logical that bridge money has come up. P.K.’s deal was long ago,” said Thun.

“Our ask didn’t go up with (Andrej) Sekera getting hurt. Our discussions to Darnell’s value haven’t changed all summer. I don’t think Darnell’s value in the marketplace should be tied to one defenceman getting injured,” he said.

It’s not like the Oilers and Nurse are a million dollars apart.

“But we’re significantly apart to make it worthwhile,” said Thun.

The Oilers only have $3.9 million in cap space today, but do have a possible $5.5 million long-term injury situation with Sekera, which they could use as long as he is out with his torn Achilles.

“It’s not fun to go through these things … it’s part of the business,” said Connor McDavid, who rooms with Nurse. “We hope there’s a deal done quickly that’s fair to both sides. Can’t say more than that.”

Oilers coach Todd McLellan would rather see Nurse on the ice, but he’s the coach, not the GM.

“Darnell’s a helluva player and we all want him to be here but he’s also a businessman,” he said.

“I don’t think you ever want to miss anything … when you’re hurt, when you’re not in camp, when you’re suspended. It can’t help but we’re not going to fix right now. Players and coaches.”

UPSHALL FAILS PHYSICAL

Former Blues forward Scottie Upshall is in camp on a tryout but will not be allowed on the ice after failing his physical due to a troublesome knee after he apparently hurt it during formal on-ice practices.

His medical iffiness may be why the Oilers brought in former Washington Capitals winger Alex Chiasson, who played 16 post-season games for the Stanley Cup champs, on a look-see.

NEW LOOK FOR MCDAVID

The hirsute McDavid, with much longer blond locks than his first three NHL seasons, plus a playoff beard to kick off training camp, thinks it’s much ado about nothing.

“Whatever … there’s nothing to it,” laughed McDavid. “It’s not like I was planning this. I just let it go.”

And the playoff facial hair?

“I’ve got a beard. No big deal,” he shrugged.

McDavid looks as fit as ever, although he joked; “I’m not going to blow the bench press out of the water.”

This ’n that: The Oilers still have to be NHL compliant with the 23-man max player roster as of Oct. 3 when the league kicks off, even though they’ll be playing an exhibition in Cologne that day with their first league action Oct. 6 in Gothenburg, Sweden against the New Jersey Devils. The Oilers can take over a third goalie to guard against injury overseas but that’s it.

E-mail: jmatheson@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @NHLbyMatty


The latest Oil Spills podcast: Oilers prospects hit training camp

Host Craig Ellingson talks to hockey writers Rob Tychkowski and Derek Van Diest about the opening of camp and what we’ll be looking to see from prospects and veterans alike as players report and train for the upcoming 2018-19 NHL campaign.

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Meadows, Pham lead Rays past Blue Jays

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TORONTO — Blue Jays rookie shortstop Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., really appreciated it when veteran slugger Kendrys Morales came over to congratulate him in Toronto’s dugout.

Turns out, Morales wasn’t speaking about Gurriel.

Gurriel had a pair of solo home runs in the Blue Jays’ 11-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. His brother Yuli Gurriel, senior by 10 years, had a grand slam and a two-run jack in the Houston Astros 11-3 rout of the Los Angeles Angels.

“He told me ‘hey, congratulations!’ and I just said ‘thank you,’ and I thought it was because I hit two homers, but then he told me that my brother also hit two homers,” said the younger Gurriel through a translator. “I’m happy for him but for me as well.”

The Gurriel brothers have never played each other professionally, but will get to on Monday when Toronto open their final home series of the season when the Astros come to Rogers Centre.

“I’m very happy but I’m also curious,” said Gurriel. “It’s a little bit weird. I’ll see how I’m feeling that day.”

The younger Gurriel had a two-run shot in Toronto’s seven-run comeback in the ninth inning of Thursday night’s 9-8 victory over Tampa. His homers on Friday made him the 14th Blue Jay to homer in three consecutive plate appearances and the first rookie to do so.

“I knew when I came back from my injury that sooner or later I was going to start getting the groove back a little bit,” said Gurriel, who twisted his left knee on July 31 and was re-activated on Aug. 24. “I didn’t lose confidence at all. I knew I had it in me.”

Randal Grichuk hit Toronto’s (70-84) other home run. Starter Sean Reid-Foley (2-4) pitched four-plus innings for the Blue Jays, allowing four runs — two earned — on six hits, striking out five. Jose Fernandez, Mark Leiter Jr., Taylor Guerrieri, Danny Barnes and Jake Petricka came on in relief.

Fernandez and Leiter gave up two runs apiece before Guerrieri allowed three. Reid-Foley walked four, while the bullpen combined to walk four more. Guerrieri and Petricka both struck batters as well.

“We walked too many guys, we didn’t help ourselves out at all, that’s for sure,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “But they hit it. They’ve got good balance, they throw all those lefties at you and if you go lefties they can throw the righties at you.”

Pinch hitter Austin Meadows had a pair of RBI singles for Tampa Bay (86-67), while Tommy Pham tripled and drove in two runs and speedy outfielder Mallex Smith doubled in a run and scored twice himself.

Diego Castillo pitched one inning, giving up first Gurriel’s homer, before getting pulled. Normally a reliever, Castillo’s start was part of a starter-by-committee approach the Rays have used all season. Jalen Beeks (5-1) gave up two runs in his three innings of work, but earned the win before Adam Kolarek, Hunter Wood, Austin Pruitt closed the door.

Gurriel hit his first homer in the bottom of the first, putting a single shot to dead centre. He connected on Castillo’s 99.1 mph fastball, the fastest pitch any Blue Jay has hit for a home run this season.

He hit his second home run of the night in the fourth inning, bringing the 21,167 in attendance to their feet. It was his 11th home run of his rookie season.

___

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Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays – 9/22/18 MLB Pick, Odds, and Prediction

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Tampa Bay Rays (86-67) at Toronto Blue Jays (70-84)

MLB Baseball: Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 4:07 pm (Rogers Centre)

Tyler Glasnow (2-6) (4.22) vs. Tom Pannone (3-1) (3.78)

The Line: Toronto Blue Jays +120 / Tampa Bay Rays -140 — Over/Under: 9 See the Latest Odds

TV: SUN

The Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays meet Saturday in MLB action at the Rogers Centre.

The Tampa Bay Rays look to stay hot after winning 11 of their last 14 games. The Rays have scored 28 runs in their last three games and four or more runs in 10 of their last 13 games. The Tampa Bay Rays have won 11 of their last 12 games when scoring more than one run. Matt Duffy leads the Rays with 148 hits and 44 RBI while Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith have combined for 172 hits and 94 RBI. Tyler Glasnow gets the ball, and he is 2-6 with a 4.22 ERA and 121 strikeouts this season. Glasnow is 0-1 with a 12.71 ERA and eight strikeouts in his career against the Blue Jays.

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The Toronto Blue Jays look for a victory after splitting their last 12 games. The Blue Jays have scored 13 runs in their last three games and three or less runs in seven of their last 11 games. The Toronto Blue Jays have lost six of their last seven games when scoring three or less runs. Justin Smoak leads the Blue Jays with 121 hits and 77 RBI while Kevin Pillar and Teoscar Hernandez have combined for 232 hits and 111 RBI. Thomas Pannone gets the ball, and he is 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA and 21 strikeouts this season. Pannone is 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA and four strikeouts in his career against the Rays.

The Rays are 4-0 in their last 4 Saturday games, 37-18 in their last 55 during game 3 of a series and 2-5 in Glasnows last 7 starts. The Blue Jays are 5-2 in their last 7 vs. American League East, 4-2 in their last 6 games vs. a right-handed starter and 5-2 in their last 7 overall. The Rays are 11-4 in the last 15 meetings and the under is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings.

I’m not looking to back either one of these pitchers, so I’d avoid this game. But if forced to pick, I’d side with the Rays. Glasnow has been rather tough to hit this season, as he’s allowing a .208 batting average overall and a .185 batting average on the road. The Tampa Bay Rays have also been one of the hotter teams in the game over the last couple of weeks as there’s still a mathematical chance of them sneaking into the playoffs. The Rays have also owned the Blue Jays in recent meetings. I’ll lay the cheap price with the Rays on the road if forced to pick this game.

Tampa Bay Rays -140

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Toronto 20-12 Widnes: Widnes relegated from Super League

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Last Updated: 22/09/18 10:12pm

Adam Sidlow looks to take on the Widnes defence.

Adam Sidlow looks to take on the Widnes defence.

Widnes’ seven-year stay in Super League came to an end as they were beaten 20-12 by promotion-chasing Toronto at the Lamport Stadium.

The Vikings have flirted with relegation all year and ended the regular season eight points adrift at the foot of the table with just three wins.

They were handed the chance of a reprieve via the Super 8s Qualifiers but made the worst possible start with a home defeat by London Broncos and, although they grabbed a lifeline with victory over Halifax a week ago, defeat in Toronto sealed their fate.

With Toulouse and London Broncos also claiming victories over Super League opponents in round six, it means the make-up of the top tier in 2019 will now be decided in the last weekend of the season.

1:10
Cummins hails Widnes character

Cummins hails Widnes character

Salford host Toulouse on Thursday while Toronto, who finished eight points clear in the Championship, play Leeds at Headingley on Friday and London Broncos are at home to Halifax next Saturday.

The Vikings led 6-0 against the Wolfpack after second rower Chris Dean, back in the side after recovering from injury, offloaded from the tackle to get full-back Joe Mellor over for the game’s opening try after 11 minutes.

Krisnan Inu added the conversion and also kicked a penalty after Toronto second rower Cory Paterson had brought the home side level with an 18th-minute try.

Harrison Hansen of Widnes Vikings is tackled by Chase Stanley, Andrew Dixon and Ashton Sims of Toronto Wolfpack. Harrison Hansen of Widnes Vikings is tackled by Chase Stanley, Andrew Dixon and Ashton Sims of Toronto Wolfpack.

Harrison Hansen of Widnes Vikings is tackled by Chase Stanley, Andrew Dixon and Ashton Sims of Toronto Wolfpack.

The home side were temporarily reduced to 12 men in the 24th minute when centre Chase Stanley was sin-binned for a crusher tackle on winger Owen Buckley, but they managed to regain the lead in his absence after a cut-out pass from Gareth O’Brien got winger Matty Russell over in the corner.

O’Brien failed with the conversion attempt and was also wide with a penalty as the Wolfpack reached the interval 10-8 in front.

Widnes regained the lead two minutes into the second half when Liam Finn’s delayed pass got Dean through a hole in the Wolfpack defence for his side’s second try and the game became frantic as both sides strove to gain the ascendancy.

Cory Patterson of Toronto Wolfpack celebrates a try with teammates. Cory Patterson of Toronto Wolfpack celebrates a try with teammates.

Cory Patterson of Toronto Wolfpack celebrates a try with teammates.

Paterson thought he had scored his second try, but a last-ditch tackle from Sam Wilde forced the ball from his grasp over the line and at the other end Harrison Hansen forced his way over from close range, only to lose his grip on the ball.

The lead changed hands for a fourth and decisive time in the 56th minute when Toronto half-back Blake Wallace darted over from dummy half on the last tackle and O’Brien’s conversion made it 16-12.

The Vikings were then denied when forward Chris Houston was held up over the try line and it proved to be their last chance as O’Brien’s two late penalties secured the win for the hosts.

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