After twice betting on himself and signing bridge contracts, we know that Edmonton Oilers’ defencemen Darnell Nurse is going to get paid when it comes time to sign his next deal. The $64-million question is how much? I’d suggest that amount won’t be enough to get the ink done on an eight-year term.
Likewise, Elliotte Friedman, who tweeted this morning that he’s hearing the Oilers and Nurse are closing in on an eight-year deal with an annual AAV of $9.25 million.
Nurse, 26, has a year remaining on his most recent bridge deal, which carries an AAV of $5.6 million, so agent Paul Capizzano and Oilers’ GM Ken Holland have some time to get things done. There’s been much speculation about whether Capizzano and Holland will work out a four-year term or an eight-year term – in both cases, the AAV is the bottom line. Now, Friedman wades in with max term and a big number on that bottom line.
The term makes sense. If the Oilers aren’t sold on the full-meal deal for Nurse, eight years, after two bridge contracts, what more could they possibly need to see? And after going that route twice, why wouldn’t Nurse and his agent greet resistance to eight-years by going to market with the cap projected to go to $82.5 million in 2022-23 and $91.4 million by 2026-27?
In today’s market with a flat cap, Seth Jones just signed with Chicago for an AAV of $9.5 million. Dougie Hamilton got $9 million from New Jersey. Suffice so say, Nurse picked a great time to put together a season that saw him finish seventh in voting for the Norris Trophy. With 16-20-36, he finished 12th in scoring for defencemen. He was first in even-strength goals with 15, and fourth in even-strength points (29) and ice time (25:38).
There’s lots of different stats available to measure how Nurse stacks up around the league – Bruce McCurdy at the Cult of Hockey put together some compelling numbers here. The bottom line is what Nurse brings to the Oilers’ core group with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
With Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear and Oscar Klefbom gone, the telling questions are simple. Where would the current group of blueliners be without Nurse? How much better are they with him entering what Holland has called win-now mode? It’s primetime for McDavid and Draisaitl.
Some will disagree, but the way I see it, and with all things – comparable players, his role with the Oilers and market value — considered, if I’m Holland and I can buy eight years of unrestricted free agency that takes Nurse to age 34, and I can do it for an AAV of $9 million, we’ve got a done deal. Pay the man.