Edmonton Oilers Defensemen Darnell Nurse remains unsigned a few days before training camp opens. Nurse is a restricted free agent which essentially means he is the Oilers property unless another team chooses to offer sheet him which in today’s NHL where the GMs all seem to be best friends…. That is highly unlikely.
Nurse is coming off a season where he led Oilers blueliners with 6 goals, 20 assists and a +15 rating…. And we wonder why this team couldn’t make the playoffs. In comparison those numbers are around where a #4 defenseman usually slots and the 0.32 points per game slot in between Gustav Forsling and Mike Reilly. Nurse isn’t known for his offense and on the bright side he averaged 22:15 time on ice per game and he managed 163 hits to go with 151 blocked shots. Although back to the negative Nurse’s turnover differential (according to TSN.ca) was a -44 this last year…. That’s 1 worse than Radko Gudas’ -43.
The Oilers have been searching for a powerplay Quarterback since 2006 and there were a few better options than Nurse in the 2013 draft. Nurse’s 0.23 ppg ranks behind Rasmus Ristolainen (0.43), Josh Morrissey (0.28), Ryan Pulock (0.43), and Shea Theodore (0.40), all players who the Oilers had a shot at drafting but chose the tough defender from Hamilton. When you’re picking a defenseman in the top 10, you would like more offense than 47 points in 197 career games.
The Oilers have next to no cap space thanks to Peter Chiarelli paying Mikko Koskinen $2.5 million to sit on the bench for 60 games next year. The Oilers have roughly $3.9 million left over but 3 guys on PTO’s (Scottie Upshall, Jason Garrison and Alex Chiasson) not all those players will make the team and going with past history I’m assuming Upshall is the one that sticks in Edmonton. So therefore, the cap space is going to be around $3 million
Nurse may be the Oilers #1 defensemen but he’s a #4 on Calgary, Anaheim, LA, and San Jose which are 4/7 teams in your division. He is reportedly asking for $5 million per year on a longer-term deal and the Oilers can’t afford that, but that’s probably a good thing. Nurse is a good shutdown defenseman, but he should not be paid like a top pairing guy.