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Narrative Surrounding Darnell Nurse’s Salary Quickly Changed After Injury

With news of Darnell Nurse’s injury, the narrative surrounding his new contract has quickly changed.

When he signed his new long-term deal, fans in Edmonton (mostly fans outside Edmonton) were quick to say the term was too long and the money too much. But, with news that Darnell Nurse will be out a few weeks for the Edmonton Oilers, it’s become crystal clear how important the defenseman is to the success of the 12-4 Oilers.

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Nurse signed an 8-year deal worth $9.25 million per season this past offseason. His was one of many big-money deals signed by blueliners who eat up big minutes for their respective teams. The argument was that Nurse hadn’t proven he was worth the investment and that the Oilers were chewing up a huge portion of their future salary cap by investing so much into one blueliner.

Immediately following the signing, Nurse started the 2021-22 season and jumped into the year by playing between 23 and 30 minutes per game. He’s on the ice in every situation and in the 16 games he played so far, he’s got 11 assists. More than that, he’s been one of the few Oilers defensemen not leaking shots against and was a plus player. He’s physical, provides solid play and continued energy, and is one of the Oilers’ most reliable players.

Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse’s new deal with the Edmonton Oilers could be a value when all is said and done

When it was announced he broke his finger, Oilers Nation went into immediate panic mode. How were the Oilers going to replace his minutes? The answer wasn’t obvious, but it seems to be by committee. First, Edmonton will ask veteran blueliner Duncan Keith to take more ice time. It’s a gamble based on his age, but he’s a player head coach Dave Tippett seems to trust. Philip Broberg and William Lagesson were called up and while Lagesson has played in the NHL before, he’s not been terribly effective in the AHL and Broberg has yet to play an official NHL game.

Oilers Will Find Out Quickly How Valuable Nurse Is

Edmonton takes on the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night. Nurse won’t be in the lineup and Broberg will make his debut. Keith and Cody Ceci will take top-pairing minutes and if the Oilers find themselves caved in 5×5, it will be evident that this team relies heavily on Nurse and might need help.

While Nurse’s injury isn’t deemed to be long-term, it’s long enough that the Oilers could lose some of the early points they’ve banked this season. If things get bad enough, GM Ken Holland might want to see what’s out there in terms of help on the market.

Needless to say, Nurse seems to be proving he’s worth every penny the Oilers are paying him. Maybe more.

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