Darnell Nurse inked his brand new deal on Friday signing a massive eight-year, $74-million contract that will likely keep him in Edmonton Oilers colours his entire career.
And now, we have a chance to see just how his contract breaks down. Here’s the full look at the deal, according to PuckPedia:
Year 1 – $12-million salary
Year 2 – $10.4-million salary
Year 3 – $12-million salary
Year 4 – $10-million salary
Year 5 – $2-million salary, $6-million signing bonus
Years 6-8 – $1.2-million salary, $6-million signing bonus
The entire length of the contract carries a no-movement clause and in the final three years of the deal, Nurse will provide a 10-team no-trade list.
Beyond getting their top defenceman locked up through the Oilers cup window, there’s very little beneficial about this deal from Edmonton’s perspective. If Edmonton wished to buy out the final year(s) of his deal in an absolutely worst-case scenario move, they would incur cap hits virtually equal to his current AAV (if my math is correct, and I’m not certain it is).
Best-case scenario down the road, the Oilers don’t have to worry about that. It would look like Nurse continuing to get better as he has for the last number of years earning every single penny of his deal while bringing a/some championship/s home to Edmonton.
The positive of the deal is that the Oilers are locking up Nurse’s best years as an NHL player. He’s still 26 years old and is in the midst of the prime of his career and it’s not unreasonable at all to expect him to get better over the next few years, too. The age curve is a concern, but Nurse is as physically fit as they come and puts in lots of work in his offseasons.
There’s a chance this is the case but at the end of the day, it never fails to amaze me how NHL GM’s sign-off on contracts structured to be buyout proof like this whether they hope to be with that team through the deal or not.
It’s worth noting, too, that the NHL’s cap, according to The Nation Network and Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, is expected to see incremental yearly increases of $1-million until 2026-27, when the cap is expected to rise to $91.4-million. That expected jump in the cap lines up directly with Nurse’s fifth year of his new contract when his signing bonus’ kick in and the added flexibility will surely help the team.
At the end of the day, the Oilers didn’t have much choice but to sign Nurse to this deal. The market for defencemen blew up in thanks to the Seth Jones contract in Chicago and drove up the price for other defencemen, Nurse being one of them. The club had little-to-no leverage and while I would’ve much preferred the club to have done a long-term contract to have kept the AAV of the deal lower in the past, this is the situation the club is now faced with.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]