WARNING: Today’s blog start’s out with a ton of gloating, back patting, and also contains a lot of “F bombs”. With that being said, let’s begin with me emphatically saying “I TOLD YOU SO”. People love a guy who announces that he’s told you so. If I know people, and obviously I do, then the one thing they love is having someone repeatedly throw it in their faces that they were right about something. The people who didn’t disagree, they love it, and the people who did, they love it even more so. At least in my dealings with people that has been the case……….
Best to put a lot of dots there to enhance the notion that I’m being very sarcastic before someone doesn’t get the joke and sucker punches me the next time they see me.
This is from my 2013 mock draft, June 29th, 2013 (remember, the draft was late that season because of the lockout).
I see a kid who in 5-10 years could be the best d-man to come out of this 1st round. Better than Jones and that isn’t a knock on Jones at all, I just think Nurse has THAT much going for him. High IQ, love that. Effortless skater, he simply looks like he is gliding around the ice. Obviously he has the size and will likely be 210-220 once he fills out. Incredible work ethic as was shown on Sports Centre earlier this week, and while I just made the case for not needing the mean streak fans crave in d-men…Nurse has it. Scouts worry about his offence, but with his skating and shot I don’t see how it doesn’t come. Jeff Marek said in an interview with Dan Tencer on Wednesday night that Nurse’s offensive growth was stunted because he hardly saw any PP time this past season. I really believe this kid has it all and will be a legit number one, a guy you build your team around.
He’s been my boy for a long time now. The first head turner moment for me with Nurse was the Coaches Corner hit from the Stanley Cup final that year. Until then, I didn’t pay all that much attention to him. Not that I disliked him at all, but no more than any other draft prospect. He was the first kid who I noticed doing that segment who had zero nerves while doing it. He was joking around, giving very well thought out answers to everything Grapes would ask, it legitimately turned me into a massive fan (and you might ask “why is that anything to get excited over?” Have you seen the kids when they’re doing that segment? They’re completely terrified 98% of the time). Because I knew he had all the raw tools already. But now it was clear he had the IQ to figure out how to improve on any short comings he may have. And it was after that, when I discovered that he was the OHL scholastic player of the year, so now I’m even higher on him than before, and was all about the Oilers hanging onto that 7th pick that year (which everyone basically was demanding they trade) to take who they ended up taking.
And in the years between, I admit I started to have doubts that he could get his game to another level. I’m going to rip on some analytics guys later in this piece, but I fully respect and pay close attention to the work they do. It’s not the analytics I dislike, it’s the people who live for them. But one guy who seems like a beauty and knows his stuff AND also knows the game well is Darcy McLeod. So when he speaks, I pay close attention. And for a few years now he hadn’t been as high on Nurse and said he wasn’t tracking like a top pairing defenceman. So I lowered my expectations on him because of that, but I constantly kept coming back to “how many of those guys who didn’t track like a number one had the combination of IQ, skating ability, size, toughness, mean streak, and work ethic that Nurse has?”
And this isn’t to say that Nurse has established himself as a stud number one defenceman just yet. He still needs to improve his vision maybe more than anything. It doesn’t need to get to an elite level, but it would drastically improve his breakout passes and when he’s able to gain the zone on the rush we would see a lot more scoring chances created. But oh man, has he shown a lot of flashes of becoming a legitimate number one this season. And thanks to that, his pay day is going to be a lot more lucrative then most people seem to realize.
I was wanting to write this piece about a week or so ago. Then I seen a little bit of chat about this on Twitter this week. One guy, who I used to follow until his work really fell off this season, was talking about Darnell Nurse getting a bridge deal. Another guy, who I’ve come across on Twitter before and doesn’t really have the insight he seems to believe he has on most things puck, said something to the effect of “on a long term deal, 4.5 per season isn’t out of the question for Nurse”. Oh, it’s out of the question my man. Of course, that guy meant it to be that he could possibly get upwards of 4.5 per season. No no bud. He’s already passed 4.5.
If you want numbers on Nurse, you have to dig a little deeper than straight up stats. For example, he’s on pace for 30 points this season. That’s ok, but on pace for 30 points while averaging four seconds of PP time a game. And while I like analytics, I’m not the best at tracking them so forgive me if this is wrong, but I believe Nurse is 9th for defencemen in CF% at 55.68 (minimum 200 minutes). He’s 5th for defencemen who have played over 400 minutes this season. Pretty impressive.
Nurse has two comparisons right now that his camp will without a doubt be looking at, and that is Mike Matheson, who just got 8×4.875 per. The other is Jacob Slavin, who just got 7×5.3 per. Oilers fans are praying for another Oscar Klefbom deal, and I know that would be oh so sweet. But it ain’t happening guys, not unless Nurse all of a sudden completely falls apart sometime soon.
This guy is playing like a legitimate number one defenceman this season, he’s made an astronomical leap, and still has a ridiculous amount of room to keep growing! Wait until he starts seeing time on the top PP unit. I very honestly wonder if McLellan has been asked to try to keep Nurse off the top PP unit in hopes of keeping the guys contract demands a little lower, because I’m pretty surprised he has yet to see time on that top unit with how poor Klefbom has been. Nurse doesn’t yet have an accurate shot, but he can rip it. I mentioned his vision earlier which has gotten better already, he’s getting more confident with the puck, and he can REALLY walk the line (go check out the third Oilers goal from Saturday night, head up, moving effortlessly, granted the Flames aren’t pressuring him but you can see how great he’s eventually going to be doing it). 30 points could easily go to over 40 if he ends up stealing the point duties on the top PP unit from Klefbom.
As for the idea of bridging him…don’t be an idiot. At this point, a bridge deal is going to be at least 3.5 per. What are you going to do by saving about 1.5-2 million over the next two seasons? Bring Jussi Jokinen back? Short term pain for long term gain. It’s unlikely we will ever see a GM try that again with a young stud defenceman after how it completely blew up in the Habs face with Subban. Plus, Nurse is a prototypical Peter Chiarelli guy. He’s getting at least seven, and likely eight years.
My prediction as of this time: 8×5.5 per. It may still go higher than that with how great he’s played, but it would take a massive drop off at this point for him to go back down to the “Klebom/Larsson” range in my opinion.
Something else I’ll touch on in this piece was what started this conversation between these guys who’ll remain nameless. They were discussing the Oilers moving out one of Klefbom or Nurse because they somehow came to the conclusion that Ryan Rishaug was hinting at that. Oh dear lord. You FINALLY have a talented blueline, with the very real potential once Klefbom gets back to form of being one of the best bluelines in the entire league, and these guys actually think that Chiarelli is going to dump one of the two pillars of this blueline for a forward?! Clearly, these are people who don’t understand the value of certain things in the NHL. You can find wingers, they are a dime a dozen. You literally can’t find defencemen, and these two, who both have quite a few followers and at least the one guy for sure has quite a bit of respect in the Oilers analytics community, actually believe Chiarelli is going to dump one of them?!? If Nurse gets what I believe he will, combined they won’t even be 10 mil a season!!! Yet he should move one of these guys, to get a damn winger. Man, I’m a nice guy, but the sentence “don’t be a FUCKING MORON” comes to mind.
And this is increasingly becoming my issue with guys, especially the analytics guys, who rip Peter Chiarelli to shreds. And I’ve done it too, but I seem to have a better grip on player value then most of these guys do (and hey, I’m wrong on it a lot myself). If you’re going to rip on Chiarelli’s moves, cool. I’m with you most of the time! But then present alternatives! Explain what else he could have done! It is so mother fucking easy to pile on, for some reason people in today’s society get off on it and it’s absolutely disgusting, whether it be sports, politics, pop culture, etc. Why don’t some of these guys grab some actual balls, quit trying to be “Twitter tough” and suggest, in the moment what the better alternative was? That’s all I ask. Don’t just say “well he’s tossed away all their secondary scoring and he should have got something better than what he did yada yada yada” shut the fuck up and say what the better alternative was. I didn’t like the Eberle deal, but he needed the cap space at the time. Was he supposed to hang on to a guy who was two million dollars overpaid?! I’m not a big Ryan Strome fan, but his deal is up after this season, you can walk away from him after the season. The point of the Eberle deal was to shed an inflated contract.
Everyone is freaked out about Russell’s contract, as was I. But with Nurse emerging, Klefbom, the possibility of Davidson getting things back on track and giving him a new deal, a kid like Caleb Jones not far away from making it to the show, and Sekera with a NTC, chances are that Russell gets moved out after the season. And maybe they’ll have to take some salary back, but teams are desperate for defencemen. You don’t think the Avs for example would see Kris Russell as an upgrade on what they have?! And it’s three more years and manageable money with the cap rising, not six more years with the cap flat-lining. Most (not all) analytics guys don’t like Russell, but the majority of this league is still “hockey guys”, and “hockey guys” adore Kris Russell.
Anyway, this piece is supposed to be about how right I’ve always been on Darnell Nurse and how he’s going to get a bigger contract this summer that anyone is expecting at the moment.
Actually, I don’t have that much to add! A bit of a cluster fuck write up, I know. And I apologize for all the swearing, but I’m leaving it in this time because I’m legitimately fired up about some of the stuff I hit on. Sometimes you just feel like getting things off your chest. But make no mistake, Darnell Nurse, at best (or worse in his case), is getting the equivalent of what Mike Matheson got from the Panthers, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got even more than what Jacob Slavin got from the Hurricanes. Guaranteed.
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