WORDS AND MUSIC

Updated: September 25, 2016 at 11:55 am by Lowetide

A lot of conversation today about Darnell Nurse, mostly in regard to possible trade options involving Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets. The lightning rod player? Darnell Nurse. It seems much of Oilers Nation is up in arms over the idea of not sending Nurse to Winnipeg immediately—even though we have no real evidence that there is a trade to be made built around these two players. Today, I would like to look at another side of this story: What do the Edmonton Oilers think of Darnell Nurse? The answer informs the future.

IN THE BEFORE TIME

  • Peter Chiarelli in regard to Darnell Nurse: “He’s been a good leader out there, but there’s a lot of nuances to a defensive game that he has to smooth out. The enthusiasm is there and there’s a lot of good parts, but the puck retrievals and when to funnel off passes and such has to get better. It’ll come. He’ll skate into a funnel (of players) a bit, but those things will come from coaching. He’s exuberant and a real coachable kid.” Source

That quote is from mid-September 2015 via Jim Matheson. Although the organization is preaching patience and development in those words, in point of fact Darnell Nurse was in the NHL on October 27.

IN THE CURRENT TIME

  • Todd McLellan in regard to Darnell Nurse: “I look at Darnell as a five-tool D-man. His skating ability is exceptional. He’s got a bite and a tenacity to him and there’s more offensively there. We have to let him feel good about that, and defensively, he’ll improve. We have an all-around defenceman who can play any which way. Rugged. Or a skill guy. He has the tools for that.” Source

And that crazy thing? Nurse played pretty well in the season’s first 11 games (compared to the rest of his season). His defensive game (SCA, Corsi for and Rel below show) was good for a rookie and he was getting more accomplished offensively—for the first 11 contests:

WAR-ON-ICE NUMBERS, 2015-16

Name  5×5/60 5×4/60 HD Scoring
Chance against
per 60
5×5 Corsi
For
Corsi Rel
Percentage
On Ice Scoring Chance
Against 5×5 (per60)
Darnell Nurse
first 11 games
(1-2-3)
1.00 19.80 11.9 49.7 -3.0 23.90
Darnell Nurse
final 57 games
(1-5-6)
0.19 0.00 14.2 44.8 -6.1 31.00

What
happened? In each season, there is a point where rookie defensemen hit a
wall. The normal plan of action is to send the player down (somewhere between G12-16, or so), but in the
case of Nurse, the Oilers kept him up even though all of his numbers
were going south.

I think the McLellan quote above suggests
the organization remains convinced of him and we could see him handled
in a different way this coming year. Does that mean third pairing
minutes with Brandon Davidson? It probably does, and that is a very good
spot to put him.

As for Jacob Trouba? Based on what we are reading on twitter, seems unlikely.