There’s a lot of talk about what the Edmonton Oilers should do with defenseman Darnell Nurse. It sounds like the Oilers and the player have figured it out and a deal might be imminent, as per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. It’s a deal a lot of fans are going to criticize the Oilers for, but it seems to be a representation of the going market for defensemen of Nurse’s pedigree.
It was reported a couple of weeks ago the two sides were leaning more towards a four-year extension. The risk there was that his contract would come due at the same time as Connor McDavid’s, that Nurse could be a worth a lot more in four years time as his game progressed, and with a bump in the salary cap he could be a $10 million per season player.
Then, it became clear the Oilers and Nurse were leaning more towards an eight-year extension. The argument there was that it would be better to lock him up, make sure he’s around to help convince McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to stay put and that he could continue to progress as an elite No. 1 defenseman. If so, any deal worth between $8-$9 million would be considered good value.
Friedman is now reporting that it looks like 8 years and $9.25 million per season could be the number. We responded that fans won’t love this deal — as they’re often looking for ways to criticize Nurse’s game based on analytics and ice time with McDavid — but that this could turn out to be a fair contract when all is said and done.
No doubt, it’s a high number. It’s more than the Oilers likely want to pay right now. But, with huge deals going out to names like Seth Jones, Dougie Hamilton, Zach Werenski, Cale Makar and others, the market has been pretty much set. Because all of the years Nurse will sign on this deal are UFA years, that has to be factored in as well. Finally, the Oilers have been closely watching Nurse. They’ve witnessed his incredible transition from a player that might have projected to being a top-four blueliner into someone on the verge of being an elite No. 1.
Will Nurse’s Deal Turn Out To Be a Steal?
Nurse is incredibly hard working to the point he’s willed himself into the role he now has with Edmonton. He’s a huge part of the leadership core of the team, he’s taken other players like Evan Bouchard under his wing and he’s dedicated himself to improving leaps and bounds season after season. He took a massive step this past year and the Oilers are betting he’s got bigger steps ahead of him.
The knock on the deal is that Nurse doesn’t play power play time for the Oilers and his incredible 5-v-5 stats could have been an anomaly. Those are fair arguments.
It wasn’t long ago fans said the same things about Leon Draisaitl. He signed a massive $8.5 million per season contract and at the time, fans were extremely critical of it. It turned out to be a huge bargain and Draisaitl has lived up to that deal and more. Can Nurse do the same?
The Oilers are hoping so by the way this extension appears to be shaping up.
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