Oilers, Darnell Nurse Agree To Two-Year Deal

Darnell Nurse

UPDATE: The Oilers have announced a new two-year deal worth $5.6 million per season with Nurse.

The Edmonton Oilers and their top pending RFA are closing in on a new contract. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported late on Sunday night that the Oilers and defenseman Darnell Nurse are close to a new two-year contract.

The deal, which would take effect on July 1st, is expected to carry a cap hit slightly above $5,500,000 per season.

Rumors had Nurse asking for a contract comparable to that of New York’s Jacob Trouba, which would cost the club upwards of $8,000,000 per season. Edmonton’s rumored ask on a long-term deal was somewhere between $6,000,000-$6,500,000.

The Oilers will get Nurse at less than expected this summer. He’s going to come in nearly $2,500,000 below where he wanted and roughly $1,000,000 below where Edmonton was hoping to get him on a long-term deal. That’s a win for Edmonton.

The win comes at a cost, however. The Oilers will only have Nurse under contract for two more seasons after this. That will effectively walk Nurse right to UFA status and the open market. If Edmonton wants to keep him beyond this, it is going to cost them.

As we said last week in this space, however, that doesn’t appear to be an issue for either side. The Oilers view Nurse as part of their future core and as a key leader. Nurse wants to be in Edmonton and wants to be an Oiler.

“Darnell wants to be an Oiler long-term and the Oilers know that he is a core player. They’ve got to overcome the cap problem, and by doing a two-year deal, at a number maybe less than $6,000,000 per year, it would satisfy the short term needs and still allow for the possibility of coming back a year from now and doing a long term deal to get over the cap issue,” McKenzie said last week on ‘Insider Trading’ on TSN.

McKenzie stressed that point again on Sunday following his initial report.

Good news for Oilers fans? Darnell Nurse is on the cusp of being signed beyond this season and will be part of the short-term core in Edmonton. It’s a big item for the summer that GM Ken Holland will not need to worry about, and it creates some unexpected financial flexibility to add a forward in the summer.


A lot of people will disagree because they wanted a long-term deal done, but I really like this contract for the Oilers. They now have leverage in the situation and are not tied to a player they don’t know enough about.

Nurse is a solid NHL defender, but we don’t know if he is a real top pairing option or just a solid second pairing guy. We’ll have that answer in two seasons.

This contract also won’t kill the Oilers financially. $5,500,000 isn’t exactly cheap, but it isn’t the crippling amount that $7,000,000 – $8,000,000 could have been. The Oilers will have the room to add a needed piece or two this summer now.

Back to that point about leverage. Oscar Klefbom should still be a top-four defenseman in two years. Caleb Jones will be an everyday NHL’er. Ideally, Philip Broberg and Dmitri Samorukov have also arrived to the NHL. Oh, and William Lagesson will either be a third pairing option or down the line.

The Oilers could have as many as four legit NHL left-shot defensemen not named Nurse on the roster in two years. That could allow them to walk a hardline with the soon-to-be veteran rearguard. Holland will have leverage.

There is also the possibility of a trade. If, in July of 2021, a long-term contract does not look likely, then perhaps a trade occurs. The Oilers will have leverage and a pretty trade chip to cash in for a forward. There will be options.

Darnell Nurse was willing to take a lesser deal to remain an Oiler for the time being. That is a win for Holland. The veteran GM has a plan, and will need the extra cap space to execute it. Getting Nurse done at this number, if/when it happens, will be a win.

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