Yesterday morning, Darren Dreger appeared on The Nielson Show over at TSN 1260 to talk all things Oilers, including Darnell Nurse’s contract delays. According to the insider, he’d be surprised if a contract isn’t finalized before the season starts but did mention that the Oilers have a number in mind that they’re not really looking to go past. Let’s break it down together.
As we all know, and have written about countless times on this site including my own article from yesterday, the Darnell Nurse contract situation has dragged on for longer than I think any of us would have expected. Personally, I thought this was going to get taken care of no later than August kinda like Leon Draisaitl’s contract from last year, but, obviously, that didn’t happen.
Now that training camp is right around the corner, ol’ Darryl still hasn’t signed and some folks are starting to wonder what’s going on. So when I saw that Dreger was jumping on Dusty’s show, I was curious what he’d have to say about it. Like most MSM that have already weighed in on the subject, Dreger doesn’t see this thing dragging on much longer, but where it gets interesting is when he starts talking about dollars (we’ll get to that in a minute).
“Yeah, I’d be really surprised if they don’t get a bridge deal in order here.”
Yeah, that’s what I think too and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out it’s really the only option. The Oilers don’t really have the cap space to go long term so a bridge deal seems inevitable unless Pistol Pete can somehow pull a sneaky one on Darnell’s agent.
“Obviously, there’s been an ongoing back and forth between the Edmonton Oilers and Darnell Nurse’s people. As you guys have openly speculated, two years seems like the right fit in the moment.”
I think a two-year deal would be fair for both the player and the organization. The team would get some insurance that Nurse will continue to progress as they hope before shelling out the big smoke, and Darnell gets the next two years to show that he’s worth a Brinks truck backing into his driveway. Remember when the Habs bridged Subban a few years back? You’ve gotta think that’s the kind of scenario that Nurse has pinned above his bed at night, especially if the contract lands on the low end of what he was hoping for. No, Nurse isn’t close to Subban, but you know what I mean.
“I’d be surprised if he gets more than $3 million.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa stop the clock. Only $3 million? Damn, son. That’s a few hundred thousand shekels less than what I’m expecting to happen and would be pretty pumped if Chiarelli can get him locked in at that price. Personally, and obviously I’m guessing, I think that Nurse is going to come in somewhere around $3.25-$3.5ish million so limboing under those totals would be a win in my books.
“I know that there’s been, again, some hint that maybe it’s slightly more than $3 million. I think the Oilers, frankly, are pretty firm on $3 million.”
Well, I’m happy to see that the team is trying to play hardball a little bit but I’ve also got questions… Sooooo, you’re telling me that the Oilers are staying firm with Nurse at $3 million but had no problem giving Mikko Koskinen $2.5 million with only four NHL games under his belt? So they’re grinding a guy they drafted but dishing gold doubloons out to a guy that’s a complete unknown? That’s confusing to me and I don’t get it, but that’s a story for another day, I guess. Anyway…
“And this is an opportunity for Darnell Nurse too. The bridge deal often works in the favour of the player.”
I agree! Like I said before, having a bridge deal gives Nurse plenty of runway to keep improving his game and absolutely cash in on his next deal. He probably won’t win the Norris like Subban did in his bridge deal, but he can definitely set himself up for a massive payout so long as he plays well over the next 24 months. The dude seems to believe in himself, and I’m not about to question his ceiling.
“I think the Oilers are absolutely committed to the notion that Darnell Nurse is miles away from his full potential.”
Yeah, I get that too. Nurse has all the tools to become a dominant defender and he made some big strides in that direction last season, but having the tools doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll always get the most out of them. I own a skill saw but that doesn’t mean I should be trusted to build a bench that’s worthy of your ass’ attention. Maybe one day I’ll get there, but at this point, simply possessing the tool doesn’t make me proficient with it and there’s an equal chance that I’ll cut my own arm off. Know what I mean?
“So whatever his next deal is after this bridge deal is going to be a good one. It’s going to be a big one because they believe in him.”
So long as he keeps progressing, you mean. But don’t worry, Dregs, you and I are on the same page here. I think Darryl is going to use these next two years, if that’s what this upcoming deal ends up being in the end, to keep improving and hopefully, that means he gets paid and we get a top-pairing defenceman. So when does this thing get done?
“I think it’s just – I wouldn’t call it a formality because you know how these negotiations go – but as I said, I’d be surprised if they don’t get something done relatively soon.”
I agree with you, Dreger, I just want this thing to get done sooner than later. Let’s get it done, ya know? I’m tired of waiting. I’d rather not have a major questionmark like this hanging around much longer, especially when you look at the current depth chart.
“There’s a dance, and you go through that. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bridge deal or a longer term. Darnell Nurse and his agent feel like he probably deserves more than the Oilers are willing to pay, but it doesn’t help him to not play hockey.”
I don’t know about you guys, but I’d be pretty excited if the Oilers can get Nurse locked it at $3 million for the next two years. That would be a decent deal for an organization that desperately needs one with a player it drafted. On the flip side, if I’m Darnell Nurse I’d be pretty happy about getting a two-year bridge deal here. The dude clearly believes in himself and the organization seemingly feels the same way, so why not roll the dice on a cheaper contract now and keep that in your pocket for when you start negotiating the extension in two years. In 24 months, Darnell will not only need a new deal but he’d also have arbitration rights and two years worth of progression (hopefully) that he can throw back across the table when the two sides start talking cash.
Even though we’re getting closer to training camp and a contract has yet to be signed, the reality is that Darryl is in already back in town and that tells me that we could be only minutes away from an announcement. Frankly, I kept checking Twitter as I was writing this just to make sure I hadn’t thrown down 1400 words for absolutely no reason. The real question is what will the final number be. We’ve been guessing on this one for a long time now, and I’m anxious to see how close we all were to getting it right. Even more so, I just want this thing to get wrapped up so that there are no contract distractions for Nurse this close to the season starting. In the long run, this bridge deal for Darnell Nurse won’t end up meaning much relative to the new deal he’ll sign two years from now, it will only a stepping stone on his way to owning gold toilet, so let’s get this thing done soon and start focusing on the season, alright? I’d rather see the team and Darryl answering questions about the upcoming 82 games and not what’s holding up his contract.