The Edmonton Oilers will be getting some reinforcements on their blue line soon, as both Darnell Nurse and Kris Russell will “likely” be available on the team’s upcoming road trip, head coach Todd McLellan says.
Coach McLellan says d-men Kris Russell & Darnell Nurse are both likely to be available to the #Oilers on this road trip.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 17, 2017
The Oilers have are about to hit the road for a crucial six-game road trip that will begin in Chicago on Friday. They’ll play the Blackhawks, Lightning, Panthers, Capitals, Predators, and Blues over a span of 11 days. It’ll be a tough trip, but after that, the Oilers will play at the friendly confines of Rogers Place for 13 of their final 18 games to close out the regular season.
Russell has been banged up since early February with a groin injury, and hasn’t played since the 2-1 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 3. Nurse was injured back in early December, and has missed roughly 30 games since getting surgery to repair ligament and bone damage in his ankle.
Nurse was enjoying a strong season before being injured. In a more sheltered role playing on the team’s third pairing, Nurse’s possession numbers have increased from a 45.5 CF% to to 53.1 CF% since last season. Russell, a polarizing player to say the least, has endeared himself to both the coaching staff and the fanbase with his gritty, reliable play, though he has been a black hole offensively.
When Nurse returns the Oilers will need to make a corresponding roster transaction. The obvious choice would be Jordan Oesterle, who doesn’t have to clear waivers on his way down to the AHL. Russell, on the other hand, was never paced on the injured reserve and can step into the lineup once he’s ready.