DARNELL NURSE: SURF’S UP, BUT NOT FOR LONG

klefbom ferguson2

The Oklahoma City Barons sent some good defensemen to the NHL, and the good ones weren’t in the minors long. As the Bakersfield Condors get ready to take flight, how long will it be for the next crop to be ready?

The most successful (in terms of NHL games played) Barons blue is Jeff Petry. He played just over one-half an AHL season before becoming an NHL player. Here’s the list of OKC defensemen who have played a season’s worth of games in the NHL—plus their GP—and their AHL GP total upon their big league arrival (in brackets):

  1. Jeff Petry 314 (49)
  2. Justin Schultz 203 (34)
  3. Martin Marincin 85 (127 and possibly counting)
  4. Oscar Klefbom 77 (57)

MATRICULATING

  • Brad Hunt 14 (207 and counting)
  • Brandon Davidson 12 (150 and counting)
  • Taylor Fedun 11 (200 and counting)
  • Jordan Oesterle 6 (69 and counting)
  • David Musil 4 (126 and counting)
  • Darnell Nurse 2 (4 and counting)

I would define “NHL player” at 100 games, your mileage may vary. The top players in this group—Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz and Oscar Klefbom—arrived in the NHL in under one AHL season. Among the second group—represented by Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson and Taylor Fedun—we’re looking at basically two or more AHL seasons, and that’s if they make it (we’re not certain about these gents).

NURSE

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The Oilers are under new management, so the numbers may not apply in the future. That said, Darnell Nurse fits (imo) into the first class of defender (less than a year) and if that holds true we’ll see him later in the 2015-16 season. Brandon Davidson and David Musil look like they’re progressing on the Marincin plan. 

MCLELLAN’S SHARKS

 Here’s a list of SJS blue and how long it took them to arrive under Todd McLellan:

  • Jason Demers 361 (103)
  • Justin Braun 287 (43)
  • Matt Irwin 153 (181)
  • Derek Joslin 116 (201)

The Sharks before McLellan did have a special player (Marc-Edouard Vlasic) who made the show as a regular at age 19. Under McLellan, Justin Braun would fit in the Petry timeline and I think that’s probably a good match for Nurse. It should be noted that the Sharks were extremely patient with Demers. 

SUMMARY

Based on the Oilers and McLellan’s past, I think Nurse gets significant time later this NHL season. Brandon Davidson pretty much qualifies as Matt Irwin as we speak (in terms of minor league time) and we should assume his continued presence in training camp is based on McLellan putting a specific value on him. He could play in the NHL this season, too. 

What does this mean for the other Bakersfield blue? Well Musil will be in the Irwin range soon and Jordan Oesterle is a year away. Dillon Simpson will be in the AHL this season and I don’t see Laleggia avoiding at least a full AHL season. For our purposes, Nurse and Davidson are the interesting players for 2015-16. 

Photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved. I wrote about McLellan’s rookies in San Jose here

    • Oilerz4life

      I’m kind of sick of the Ference hate. Nikitin is one thing, but to hate on your captain (like it or not) who’s pretty awesome for the community and is always in great shape? Doesn’t make any sense. I love Nurse and he may well play a number of current defense men out of a job someday, but let’s lay off the hate on one of the good guys

      • Joy S. Lee

        You’re right that Ference doesn’t deserve any hate. However, from a fans perspective of their team’s players, he certainly does seem to be putting forth a gargantuan effort – as he’s known for – to try to keep up with the game. And that’s the point: he’s trying, but not necessarily succeeding. He is struggling to keep up with the opponents’ forwards, and it seems to be a regular part of his on-ice sequences.

        It’s about winning. If Ference can’t help the team achieve that through his on-ice play, his off-ice play isn’t going to be as effective, either. Time marches on; for sure, there’s no need to hate, but the fact is… it’s about winning.

  • Teeeb

    I’d choose Nurse over Nikitin/Ferrence 10/10 times. Simply a much better player. The idiotic moves of the past regime are still being felt severely… sigh…

  • Well as far as camp was concerned it appeared to me Nurse was at least the 6th best dman on the team. Sure, he had his breakdowns and looked like he could use some seasoning the A but neither of Nikitin nor Ference outplayed Nurse.

    Not to mention, he ragdolled a Flame which I could watch a few more times this season with great pleasure…

  • CMG30

    I really wanted to give Nikitin the benefit of the doubt this preseason and see how he plays under Coach Todd. He showed that he is too slow a skater especially on the turn he had AHLers beating him consistently last night. If Niki is part of this defense this year I fear we are doomed to be doormats again. There is no way that Darnell isn’t a better option.

    • bradleypi

      What a surprise. 1 bad game by the WHOLE team and an article about the defence pops up. And 3 comments in someone is already bashing nikitin and blaming him for talbot not getting a shutout. Shocker!!! Lol classic oilersnation.

  • McDaddy

    I can’t belive your letting TSN cancel Dennis King. (As if you had a choice)
    Too honest & too funny I guess, Lt, you seem like a stand up guy. If your ever in the “big chair” pls remember the listeners should always be more important then the sponsors. Someone needs to tell the higher ups to grow a pair!

  • CMG30

    The last few years have really highlighted for me the need for quick feet on the blue line. It is amazing how quickly the game has passed players like Musil and Ference. Even a guy like Hunt with tremendous offensive upside can’t play in the league due to footspeed concerns. I am a firm believer in the slow and steady approach with rookie blue but Nurse and Davidson are far better options than Ference/Nicotine simply based on this talent. Hope the coach/GM sees it that way or we’re in for a long season.

    • Oilerz4life

      This isn’t Russia, like assign someone to Siberia. You can’t just “assign” Nikitin to Europe lol. Pretty sure Nikitin would have to green light whether he wanted to play KHL or not, salary cut and all, unless he was bought out, which didn’t happen. I think the Oilers could send him to Bakersfield where he could systematically dismantle their defense on full salary. Chicago doesn’t even want to trade their cast offs on us when Nikitin’s name comes up so that speaks to his trade value as well. Why he wasn’t bought out is beyond me.

  • Spoils

    Who’s idea was it to send Nurse down so early ? Chia ? Hard to figure out . Nurse played two games before being sent down last year back to juniors . Somehow he has now become worse and cannot even be around for last cuts . This , on a club that was worst in league last season , and not much better so far this year . They did not play him with any NHL veterans in camp as well . Has he become a bust in last year , even falling further behind ones like Davidson , Nikitin and Ference ? Reinhart brings more to club than Nurse does ? Either Nurse not half the hype he is touted to have , or he was not put in much of a situation to pass/succeed . Is he ready ? Sure he’s ready , but club doesn’t think so .

    • Spoils

      or.. just stick with me one this one. The team isn’t going to automatically start winning every game. Just like last night there are going to be tough hard nights. It would do nothing for him to be here and get beat like that. Having him be a top pairing guy in bakersfield is only going to benefit him and the oilers. And if you think he’s ready you clearly don’t understand defense. Everyone can see he still tries to do too much and chases the game. He needs to learn to pick his spots and be responsible. He didn’t show that in the games he played. therefore he is sent down. He will be back before the end of november. By then he’ll be about 15 to 20 games into playing top line minutes and even he’ll be better than he was in training camp.

    • Cain

      Nurse MAY be NHL capable on the 3D but that doesn’t mean he should play. Chia sent him down because he knew he did not want him to start and wanted to play those that would as there are a lot of new D/partnerships that need to get playing time.

      D are like a fine wine. If you drink it too early its not as good as the $15 stuff. Let it mature and it is outstanding. Nurse needs maturity and a season (or maybe less) of top minutes against top offence. Patience young Skywalker.

      • Thumby

        Dude, if you are trying to age cheap wine in order to be as “good as the $15 stuff”, the economy is worse off than I ever imagined!

        Do yourself a favour and stick to good old fashioned BEER!

        Cheers!

        Oh, regarding Nurse, give him 20 games in the AHL. That would be an investment that would net long term gain.

  • CMG30

    No doubt that Nurse is already better than both NN and AF. Still, it was the right move to send him down.

    It may not do the Oil blueline a lot of good right off the hop, but it’s clearly better for his development that Nurse get big minutes in the AHL instead of the scraps in what’s going to be a gongshow till Chirelli can unload one or both of the boat anchors.

  • Spoils

    They may have chosen the player’s development over the team’s immediate success. I think mgmt deserves applause, regardless of how much the fans want or Nurse himself wants to be in the show.

  • Spoils

    this post is more voodoo-magic-think soooo… grain of salt please.

    teams are like bands and companies in that they have leaders. But a lot of people don’t fully grasp what it means to be “the man”.

    The person at the core of the music.

    we send Darnell down and all of a sudden the D vanishes.

    probably a coincidence. but maybe he is taking steps to the center of our D.

    obviously he is not a top pairing guy, and I applaud mgt because he needs to be in the AHL, but hard to argue the heart he’s shown.

  • Spoils

    LT, you keep saying Nurse will get significant time this year in Nhl. that may be true, but if the Oilers are winning that means Nurse doesn’t get significant NHL time this year, because why would you mess with a good thing, unless it’s injury. So I hope he does not, because that means the Oil are winning.

  • Oilerz4life

    NN was on IR at the end of last season. No buy out possible. AF full no move clause. Too much PR value to buy out the Captain,…this summer.

    We will see the team evolve over this season. D for sure. The three headed goalie monster too. Some forwards before the deadline too especially if Slepy, Yak and Drai prove they are big time for the show.

  • Oilerz4life

    I am among the biggest haters out there. But you negative nellies have to give the refreshed oilers a break. They are going to suck this year just not as hard as they have in the past

    If at the end of this year they are lotto picking again then hate on

  • Oilerz4life

    In my opinion, the only reason Nikitin and Ference are on the roster (for now), is strictly financial. Everyone of us is painfully aware that Nurse, Davidson and others, are far better defensive options than those 2 pylons. These are mistakes that MacT made and Chia has to pay for. There is no way on earth that The GM or coach wants either of them in the lineup. Hopefully, a solution can be made sooner rather than later to get them off the books, and we end up with the right guys playing . Looking forward to a great season.

  • Cain

    This current situation reminds me of last years centre position issue. We could all see the issue and the team went 5-20 or something. If nurse gives the oil the best chance to win why wouldn’t he be on the team? Send NN to California.

  • oilredemption

    Everyone “cheers” if Dennis king needs to come back! Best of your hosts lowetide. Honestly he was on your show the first time I listened and I was busting a gut and was hooked on your show.

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Don’t worry, the first injury we have on the Oiler defence Darnell will get the call and once he’s up I have no doubt he will be here to stay.

    He’s a warrior and I have a feeling his fierceness will inspire some of his teamates to add some fire to their game.

    Mark Messier had the same effect on the Oilers of old. It’s called leadership.

    I see a future Captain in him.

  • commonfan14

    *******Fantasy Hockey Spam*********
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    If anyone is interested in doing an auction draft tonight at 8PM Edmonton time, it’s a points H2H league that mostly starts fresh with an auction draft every year.

    If anyone is interested, please have a look at the league at the link below and drop me an email at commonfan14@gmail.com

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  • 5 Cups

    Nurse: he got sent down because that’s what Chia does. Go ahead and check his track record. Very few guys play in the show on his team that spend little to no time in the A. I don’t think Nirse will be down for too long.

    From what I keep reading trading nikitan and or Ferrence is next to impossible so nurse could spend the most of the season south of the boarder. To be clear I want him in the NHL, but even a short time south will help out a tonne. Edit: to be clear I don’t mean trading Scrivy for an injured player. Scrivy for …..?

    The hamburgler went down in Ottawa. Trading partner for Scrivy?

  • YFC Prez

    I’ve spent the last 6 years on the nation reading countless comments about how the oilers always rush their prospects. I’m perplexed when finally we have a GM/ coach that are willing to take their time with a player before cutting him loose in the bigs, so many of us get all fired up for our brass developing Nurse the right way. Chiarelli is a GM who likes his guys to play in the AHL before coming up, his history in Boston shows that and it’s refreshing for this club to see the same.

    Darnell may have NHL ready skills. He may be a better d-man than either Nikitin or Ferrence. But that doesn’t matter. He needs to learn how to play at the professional level, Darnell Nurse needs to fine tune his game. Like McLellan said he does have some junior habits that need to be worked out of his play, ie skating into a funnel on his breakouts. Those kinks are much better worked out in the AHL than the NHL.

    Darnell is realisticly the first #1 D man this team is going to have in a very very long time. but he isn’t that player just yet, he still needs to grow into the player we all think he will be and so desperately need. The oilers can’t mess this one up. Players like Nurse are very hard to come by. He is so much better off grooming the flaws out of his game in the AHL than learning on the fly as the #6-7 guy in edmonton.

    When he is ready he will absolutely be on the oilers. He will eventually be the most important oiler in the back end. Nurses gameplay is the only story that will tell us when this will happens, Nikitin or Ferrence should have absolutely no effect on where Nurse plays. Like I said before, he is just way to important of a prospect to mishandle.

  • 5 Cups

    Birdmon86 : “it’s amazing ” McLellan continued ” We sit in the office and talk about pairs (defensive ) and lines and everybody has a different perspective because we really don’t know the players that well yet ” . So if they do not know , what makes any of you think you do ?