ETA NURSE!

The Edmonton Oilers selected Darnell Nurse this summer in the entry draft, and then sent him out to junior after a strong showing in training camp. Nurse looks like the real deal—defense first, rugged player, a mean streak and he can move the puck—but it’s going to take some time before he gets to the NHL and then even longer to be helping the team win games. With the Taylor Hall/Jordan Eberle payday contracts kicking in this season, what is the window for this group? How long do they have to wait for that complete defenseman? Is it worth waiting?

SOME COMPARABLES

I’ve chosen two defensemen we can compare in terms of outer marker, they aren’t perfect but give us an idea about how this might go with Nurse in the next few seasons.

  • Duncan Keith: Drafted 2002, he turned pro in 2004 and played two full seasons in the minor leagues. Chicago brought him to the NHL in 2005-06 and he played big minutes immediately (led the Hawks in TOI as a rookie). At that time, the Blackhawks had a group of veterans (Spacek, Aucoin) to mentor the kids (Keith, Seabrook, Byfgluien) and Keith was thrown into the deep end at 22-years old. Based on the numbers available, it looks like he struggled in year one, improved smartly year two and then at 24 became Duncan Keith.
  • Alex Pietrangelo: Drafted 2008, he got two looks at 18 and 19 (remember Nurse almost got a look this past season, and may get some games next fall) before finally making the NHL at age 20. Again, Pietrangelo was close to leading the club in TOI and as with Duncan Keith Pietrangelo was surrounded by veterans (St. Louis stapled the rookie to veteran Barret Jackman). He was an outstanding rookie and has been a quality player for the Blues early in his career.

Representing the idea of bringing Nurse to the NHL next fall, we have Exhibit "B" below. Since 2006-07, there have been 12 teenagers who have played 50 or more games in the NHL during their rookie year:

From these dozen players who were good enough to land an NHL job, I’d say at least six of them can reasonably be described as having struggled in the following seasons (Myers, Del Zotto, Fowler, Schenn, Johnson, Larsson). Now, your mileage may vary, you might include more or less or exclude some I’ve mentioned, but it does appear there’s a 50% (or more) chance an NHL team is welcoming growing pains (and retarded development) by going this route.

Fair?

TRADE FOR BLUE

Which brings us back to trading for a defenseman. If the Oilers wait for Nurse, and do it the right way, they could be looking (using the Keith example) at 2017-18 for a strong NHL defenseman wearing Nurse’s number. That’ll coincide with the final three seasons of the current Taylor Hall deal.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The Oilers don’t have a better prospect than Nurse in their system and they don’t have anyone with a complete skill set on the NHL roster. They’re going to have to procure this talent via free agency or trade.

Coming in December: the candidates.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Loving the Suits Gif. Donna, yum.

    Should the Oilers obtain a solid #1 Dman now? YES. The youngsters need a mentor. Darnell will need one.

    I’d trade our entire roster and my left nut for Peitrangelo. Guy is a Cadillac.

  • Just a Fan

    Can’t wait til Nurse and Ekblad develop. By that time we’ll be able to trade old Hall, RNH, eberle and yakupov to get younger skill up front! This rebuild sucks!

  • Zarny

    Nurse certainly looks like the real deal but you have to be careful with comparisons. I expect a player somewhere between Braydon Coburn and Pietrangelo.

    Good observation that Keith and Pietrangelo were supported by veterans. Just in case MacT is wondering what ails Justin Schultz.

    I don’t see one of the sexy names on D being available. Maybe Subban if his contract goes off the rails in Mtl. Weber, Suter, Chara, Keith, Doughty, Pietrangelo etc aren’t going anywhere.

    Perhaps Nurse becomes one of those names. I think he has the highest ceiling of any prospect. 2017-18 sounds right when you’d expect him to play a significant role.

    Which means the Oilers need a legit top pairing D right now. That’s 2 of the top 60 D in the league. It’s a short list and could very well include moving one of the young guns.

  • **

    COMPREHENSIVE TRADE PLAN:(or too much time on my hands…)

    Untouchables: Hall, RNH, Nurse, Ferrence(NMC)
    Almost Untouchables: Perron, J Schultz, Gordon, Yakupov(Won’t return proper value)
    Major Trade Pieces: Eberle, Gagner, First rounders 2014 & 2015, Petry, Klefbom

    1:Jack Johnson may be worthwhile for Columbus to move for multiple assets as they have Wisniewski, Tyutin and the upcoming Murray. A package around Gagner and our 2015 first for Jack would be okay with most Oil fans and would likely be enough for the Jackets. Maybe we could finagle Anisimov from them as well if we changed the first to 2014 instead of 2015.

    2:Eberle should be traded. He is a great player and deserves more credit than he seems to get. He is also unable (or unwilling) to battle for position and needs to play with stronger linemates. He would be pretty awesome beside Giroux or Lecavalier. Philadelphia is tight at the cap next year and does not have a winning lineup. I believe a package around Ebs, Klefbom, Petry and a draft pick (also N Schultz if trade done before season end) would return 3 of 5 players in Coburn or L Schenn, Couturier or B Schenn and Simmonds. My preference would be to avoid the Schenn boys, but Philly is trying to move them.

    3:Ehrhoff has a modified NTC which may be problematic. He was also paid $10 million last year ($5.85 million after lockout) and is owed $8 million this year. His contract is awkward with regard to age and term (ends 2021 at age 38), but is a reasonable cap hit($4 Million). A package around our 2015 first would likely do. Perhaps we could also get Marcus Foligno if we include Petry. This is the least necessary trade and should only be done if the oilers fail to acquire either of the other veteran Defensemen.

    Lost Assets: Eberle, Gagner, N Schultz, Petry, Klefbom, 2014 and 2015 firsts, as well as some combination of any depth players/prospects/picks.

    Gained Assets: Johnson, Coburn (or Ehrhoff), a big young Center(Couturier or Anisimov), a tough RW (Simmonds), as well as, potentially, B Schenn and Marcus Foligno.

    Result: Making the massive assumption that these trades go off successfully, the results would be game-changing. Two minute-munching defenders to usher in the young Schultz, Nurse and Belov make our defense a strength. Three large, top six forwards make our top six far more difficult to play against. The surrendered assets are of quality, but have redundant skills on this team. These maneuvers would bring everything that the Oilers are looking for and would immediately make this team competitive in the West.

  • Serious Gord

    Re: the oil scouting staff picked under lowes tenure

    I know very little about the people he picked over the years. Does anyone know if his cronyism includes those he picked for these vital roles too?

  • Zarny

    I don’t consider drafting our Achilles – it has been player procurement and retainment. We don’t have enough veterans filling important mentorship roles. MacT did a reasonable job this summer but is dealing with so many gaps in this respect it was an impossible task. Remember when Phili turned over their entire team after an abysmal season and ended up having a great year? Looked like a great strategy at the time. But look at them now? They gave up the future (although they are filling the cupboards again now). Our core has vast potential but lack on ice leadership in critical roles. There is no magic for this stuff. Sure you need to take chances on certain players/contracts but the overarching strategy should always be the same. The Oilers lost the plot and it will take a while to get back on course.

  • Zarny

    LT, What do you think about Tim Gleason? I know he is having an off year, two more years at $4ml and has a LMC, he is tough as nails and I thought a decent skater,puck mover and very hard to play against, at 30 years old I think he would be a good addition. If the Oiler’s traded Nurse I would be really pissed, he was the best Oiler d man in camp and it was obvious he is going to be a stud sooner rather than later.

  • 2004Z06

    Personally the only #1 draft overall I didn’t like was Yakupov. Like the kid but we had a chance to draft the best player for need in Galchenyuk. We didn’t need another winger at all. Imagine how different this team looks with RNH and Galchenyuk at 1 and 2.

    As for tanking yet another season…This idiotic idea is exactly the problem in Edmonton. Celebrating first overalls with draft parties is celebrating losing. I don’t care if this team finishes 26th. You have to compete to the bitter end.

    There is no reward for losing! You want to change the culture here? The culture needs to be that losing is unacceptable no matter what.

    No participation ribbons in the NHL.

    • Arius Mumin

      We had Gagner remember. He’s awesome.

      How do you know we didn’t need another winger? Why not?

      What is wrong with Yakupov? Is he the sole reason and contributor to the tanking?

      What do you like about Hall? He is an older and a more expirienced #1 overall on the same team. What is the big difference between Hall and Yakupov in your opinion?

      There is a reward for losing, it’s called a paycheque and mindless fans on your jock in public, no matter the result or effort.

      • 2004Z06

        If you think Gagner is awesome as a #2 centerman, you clearly know absolutely nothing about hockey. Centerman win draws, forecheck, backcheck, maintain possession, and win puck battles. All of which Gagner does not do. You can go ahead and have your man crush, but Gagner is not and never will be a legitimate number 2 NHL centerman.

        As for Yakupov, I did not say I didn’t like him. (read the post). I said we didn’t need another winger regardless of his name.

        We needed a big, strong, responsible center. That is what Galchenyuk is, and what Gagner is not.

        I simply do not understand the love in with Gagner here. Not a bad player, but not a good centerman. 6 yrs in the league, never higher than 50 points, never over 50% in the circle and never a + player.

  • Spydyr

    Pietrangelo and Keith as comparables?

    That is some pretty high hopes.Two of the best defencemen in the NHL today.

    Sounds like someone has been mixing their drinks with Kool-Aid this weekend.

  • Spydyr

    Nurse in 5-6 years is going to turn into CP44 in a few years. Read one report on by some scout who rated defensive prospects since 2010 and the top 4 demen in his estimation were Jones, Nurse, Murray, Larson.

    I think we all thought Nurse should go back to Junior and ultimately its great that he is dominating the OHL. You have.to think he might be a favorite for the leagues Top Dman and potentially the best dman in the country. PPG player with shutdown capabilities with a motor and.mean streak. DAMN I say. Going to be fun watching him on Canada’s Top Pairing at the World Juniors.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    I like Lowtide…..he’s one of the best writers on the site and has an entertaining radio show. But I have said it before….following and evaluating prospects is a hobby of his…..and he is typically VERY optimistic when it comes to assessing assets……nothing wrong wit that…he is entitled to his opinion and he provides valuable and interesting updates on the Oilers pipeline of prospects….but you have to view his articles through that exact filter…..rose coloured glasses to some degree…..the perfect example is this article versus the fact that Nurse did not get an invite to the World Junior tryout camp…….not a big deal….just sayin…

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    I like Lowtide…..he’s one of the best writers on the site and has an entertaining radio show. But I have said it before….following and evaluating prospects is a hobby of his…..and he is typically VERY optimistic when it comes to assessing assets……nothing wrong wit that…he is entitled to his opinion and he provides valuable and interesting updates on the Oilers pipeline of prospects….but you have to view his articles through that exact filter…..rose coloured glasses to some degree…..the perfect example is this article versus the fact that Nurse did not get an invite to the World Junior tryout camp…….not a big deal….just sayin…