EDMONTON OILERS: DARNELL NURSE EXPECTATIONS | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


The other day I wrote a piece that suggested the Oilers should consider trading Darnell Nurse for Jacob Trouba if the option presented itself. Trouba is a right-handed defenseman with some offensive upside that could immediately help the Oilers in a position of weakness. I like Nurse, and I don't know if this trade has been even discussed between the Oilers and Winnipeg, but part of me believes this is a trade that could benefit the Oilers today and could be a win/win for both teams.

Photo by IQRemix

The mere suggestion of trading Nurse was met with a barrage of criticism from fans, who despite the lack of evidence so far that Nurse is an effective NHL defenseman, think that Nurse is the next coming of Chris Pronger and an elite defenseman. They may be right, we just don't know yet and a small minority of fans, one's that were more concerned with winning this year and looked more at the immediate need of the Oilers, seemed to think it would be a good move for Edmonton. Some even believed Winnipeg would want more in exchange.

Realistic Expectations

So, for those fans completely opposed to trading Nurse (I do see some benefit in Nurse and think he will one day be a heck of a defenseman), I thought it would be wise to take a look at a realistic expectation of what the 2016-17 season might hold for him. To really get a sense of the kind of impact he'll have, the first thing we should do is take a look at where he slots in on the defensive depth chart.

Klefbom / Larsson
Davidson / ?

If you believe that the righty/lefty position is as important as Chiarelli seems to think it is, then Mark Fayne slots in your top-four. Perhaps Fayne shouldn't be there based on pure talent as a top-four defenseman, but he's the only right-handed shot Edmonton has outside of Larsson.

If you don't want Fayne there, realistically, Sekera moves over and Davidson slides up putting Nurse in your bottom-pair blue. The status quo means that Nurse potentially battles it out with Griffin Reinhart and Jordan Oesterle. In either case, there isn't a big opportunity to become a big-time impact player this season unless injury provides more time for him.


Jonathan Willis wrote a piece that was also a bit controversial. He compared Nurse to a history of players at the same age group and with similar underlying numbers in an attempt to project where Nurse might end up as an NHL player. Admittedly, Willis understood that it's too early to say definitely where Nurse will be, but his early projections had him as a top-four. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the comparable Willis made if things turned out roses for Nurse. If things went sideways or trended as what tends to happen more often than not, Nurse wasn't a top-four based on his early career numbers.

I can't say I agree with Willis' assessment. Nurse did get chewed up if you look at merely his statistics, but Nurse is a rookie and he has intangibles that I think will help him develop into a better blueliner over the years. Will he big a Chris Pronger? I don't see it. But, can he be a top-four defenseman with grit, speed, some offensive ability and play a game that doesn't hinder his team defensively? Yes, I think he can.

The Oilers

Most importantly, I think the Oilers like Nurse and have high hopes for him as a player. There have been a couple instances where his name has been part of a rumoured package to land immediate help and to date, he's still an Oiler defenseman.

Nurse will get an opportunity to prove he has the goods. For those that oppose trading him for anything or immediate help, I hope he shows his value in the next two seasons. Nurse's trade value now is likely at a high-point and he's considered a valuable asset in a trade. If Nurse trends upwards, that value will only go up. If he doesn't after this season, trading him for good value won't be nearly as easy as it likely is today.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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  1. I think its still way to early to trade Nurse given the upside he could potentially provide to the Oilers in the future. He could be a dud or he could be a stud. We still don't know quite yet. The best thing to do would be to give him time to hone his craft like other teams do for their young players, and not to rush him so fast. Defenseman take alot longer to develop then other positions. Give him time to flourish and succeed.