With Ryan Strome signing last week, it seems like one of the last bits of housekeeping the Oilers have to get done is a new deal for defenceman Darnell Nurse. In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday, I’m asking you what you would do with Darnell Nurse’s next contract?
Since being drafted 7th overall, Darnell Nurse has spent the last three years steadily climbing the Oilers defensive depth chart and has since found himself playing some major minutes in the top four. So far in his young career, the former 7th overall pick in 2013 has played in 197 games for the Oilers and has put up 14 goals and 33 assists for 47 points with this past season being his biggest step forward to date. During the 2017-18 season, Nurse averaged 22:15 per night with 19:24 coming at even strength and the rest on special teams, mostly the penalty kill. Needless to say, the Oilers will need Nurse to continue his progression into being a complete, well-rounded defenceman if they hope to get back to the promised land.
Looking ahead, ol’ Darryl will be expected to play a major role for the Oilers on their blue line, but before we can get there he needs to be re-signed first and that’s where you come in. After finishing up his entry-level contract, Nurse is looking for a new deal and I need you to put your GM hat on and make the call on what that should look like. Would the Oilers be wiser to try and go with a short-term bridge to make Nurse show them that he’s worth it while also delaying a bigger payout, or do they use a big chunk of what’s left of their $4.9 million in cap space to try and get him signed for the long haul? There could be benefits either way.
BRIDGE OR LONG TERM DEAL?
Regardless of what kind of the deal the Oilers and Nurse settle upon, there are going to be pros and cons that go along with it. What this negotiation really boils down to is whether the Oilers want to gamble on a long-term deal and assume that Darnell Nurse is going to keep developing the way we all hope he does, or sign him to a ‘show me’ type of bridge deal to make sure of it before committing long term. Will they try to save money now because their cap space is so thin or will they try to spread that saving out? Which answer is the right one?
Part of me thinks that a bridge deal would be best for Nurse because it will give the team some insurance against overspending on a somewhat unproven commodity. It would allow them a larger sample of seeing if Nurse is the real deal and able to handle the rigours of playing in the top four on a nightly basis. Another part of me believes that Darnell Nurse has the toolbox required to keep developing into the stud defenceman we so desperately need, and locking him up long term would be the best way to keep him cost controlled for the next eight years.
When thinking about Nurse’s next contract, I thought we should first look at some players with a similar draft pedigree from the defenceman-heavy 2012 draft and see what they signed for after their ELC was over. Here are some of the blueliners’ post-ELC deals:
- Ryan Murray (second overall, 2012) – Two years, $2,825,000 cap hit
- Morgan Rielly (fifth overall, 2012) – Five years, $5,000,000 cap hit
- Hampus Lindholm (sixth overall, 2012) – Six years, $5,205,556 cap hit
- Matt Dumba (seventh overall, 2012) – Two years, $2,550,000 cap hit
- Jacob Trouba (ninth overall, 2012) – Two years, $3,000,000 cap hit
- Cody Ceci (15th overall, 2012) – Two years, $2,800,000 cap hit
- Olli Maatta (22nd overall, 2012) – Six years, $4,083,333 cap hit
So what should the Oilers do? I don’t have the answer. Fortunately, this feature depends solely on what you guys think and I’m asking what you guys would do in this situation and how you would handle Nurse’s upcoming contract. Would you go with a short-term bridge deal that gives the organization some insurance and leaves Nurse hungry, or would you look at something like an eight-year deal to try and keep his cap hit as low as possible over the better part of the next decade?
What do you guys think?
DARNELL NURSE’S CAREER SO FAR
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