The unnecessary hate of Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
Darnell Nurse is a controversial figure in the Edmonton area.
The argument around Nurse is that he earns too much money. Is it justified? In some areas sure but overall the crowd leading the charge has overblown the situation.
Nurse was drafted seventh overall in the 2013 NHL Draft and has played 548 regular season games since. One pick after him was Rasmus Ristoleninan, who is-175 in his career and has 14 points this season, so we should be considering ourselves lucky. Meanwhile, Nurse is a top-pairing defenceman for a Stanley Cup-contending team. Obviously, it is easy to look back now and look at mistakes that have been made in the draft.
Many would argue that a mistake was made when Ken Holland signed Nurse to an eight-year contract valued at $74 million. The $9.25-million cap hit makes him the seventh highest-paid defenceman in the league today, and the second highest left shot defenceman behind Zach Werenski at $9.58 million per year. He is paid more than Roman Josi, Cale Makar, and Miro Heiskanen.
When you look at overall points totals, Nurse does not stack up against any of those players. With 10 goals and 41 points this season, he sits significantly behind Makar with 66, Heiskanen with 62 and Josi with 59.
However, if I told you at even strength Nurse is on par with those guys, would you believe me? Well, you better start believing because he is 7th amongst the defencemen with 37 points. That is ahead of both Heiskanen, Josi and Makar, who of course have missed games. However, in Makar’s case, Nurse is only slightly off the pace in the assist column. The Oilers blueliner is playing at a rate of 1.16 assists/60 while the Makar averages 1.24 assists per 60 minutes played.
At even strength, Nurse is also ahead of Devon Toews, Alex Pietrangelo, and Rasmus Dahlin. The list is rather long considering Nurse supposedly does not produce, according to some people. Evidently, that idea of that is completely incorrect.
Many argue because he does not play on the power play that his contract is not worth it. I am sure many of those people are the same ones that discount Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s power play points.
John Scott, former NHL All-Star, made a statement about the Norris Trophy winner on his podcast Dropping The Gloves.
“What constitutes a Norris Trophy winner? Is it just strictly points or is it a guy you can put out in any situation? If you are up by a goal with 30 seconds left in your own zone, are you going to put Erik Karlsson on the ice? Nope, you are not. He is going to be stapled to the bench. Darnell Nurse will be on the ice and you better believe it.”
Now, do I believe Nurse should be a Norris Trophy contender? Absolutely not and that is not what John is saying either. The idea around the comment is that Nurse is a reliable defenceman that the Oilers have trusted in those situations endless times. It is evident almost every night.
Since the trade deadline, Nurse averages the most minutes at even strength, 18:54, on the Oilers blueline. Additionally, when the Oilers are holding a lead, Nurse is the man relied upon the most to secure the two points.
Time on ice when leading
When the game is tied, Nurse leads the way again and is also third on the team when the team is trailing. Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard take on those duties, and rightfully so. However, while they might trump Nurse in that depart, they do not top him in many other categories situationally.
The offence has turned in Nurse’s favour too since Ekholm joined the team. He is now averaging 1.95 points per 60 along with 5.37 shots per 60. Before the deadline passed, Nurse was sitting around 1.41 points per 60 and 6.56 per/60, so while the shots are lower the production is higher.
Please do not misinterpret all of this as me suggesting that Darnell Nurse is a perfect defenceman. He is not; however, I would like somebody to show me one that is. His mistakes have cost this team on occasion but his skill has provided this team with two points more often. Take away the contract and you have a top four defencemen you can play in any situation consistently. Even with the contract, it is not as bad as many make it seem. He is here and is an Edmonton Oiler for many years to come.
Edmonton is a passionate city that loves the Oilers. Let’s keep the passion positive when it comes to Nurse because he deserves better.
EXTRA TIME WITH LIAM HORROBIN
I host a weekly soccer podcast over on The 90th Minute that keeps you up to date with the latest news. If you are into that kind of stuff, check it out!
Recent articles from Liam Horrobin