RE 17-18 DARNELL NURSE: CONGREGATION

Darnell Nurse is a somewhat unique talent on the Edmonton Oilers roster. He brings size, speed and the ability to transport the puck out of the defensive zone, plus a physical edge that borders on 1970’s mean (1970’s mean being good). I’m waiting to see him take that next step, while those who study early results for successful top 4D suggest we should have seen more progress by now. Is Darnell Nurse going to be a third pairing defender for his entire career, or is there something more? (Congregation).

DARNELL NURSE 2016-17

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.81 (3rd among regular defensemen)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 0.00 (zero points in 4 minutes)
  • Corsi for 5×5 %: 51.0
  • Corsi Rel 5×5 %: 0.8
  • DFF Elite 5×5 %: 47.4
  • DFF Elite Rel 5×5 %: -0.4 (24 percent of TOI v. elites)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 85 shots/5.9%
  • Boxcars: 44gp, 5-6-11
  • (All numbers via Puck IQStats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference)

RE 17-18: 55GP, 4-12-16 (.291)

  1. Do you think Nurse is making progress? I do, this past season saw progress in a lot of areas. It’s difficult to know how much better he’ll get, some believe he should be more established by now.
  2. Was Oscar Klefbom better at 21? Klefbom was ahead at 21 in my opinion, it’s difficult to make exact comparisons because of the McDavid factor. We will attempt to drill down on this subject (McDavid) over the next few minutes.
  3. How crazy is it? In 2016-17, Nurse with McDavid posted 57.7 percent Corsi for 5×5 in 188 minutes; Nurse without McDavid delivered 47.9 percent Corsi for 5×5 in 433 minutes. Source. That’s one world away.
  4. What kind of opposition did he flourish against? Nurse’s numbers are fascinating. Against elites, he was 47.8 percent DFF 5×5 in 158 minutes. That’s in the same range as Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell, and his rel number is close to even in that regard (-0.4 percent). That’s a pretty good number. If you check the Puck IQ numbers with Nurse with and without McDavid, looks like 97 is zooming Nurse. Information here, and I did reach out and received confirmation from the giant brains at Puck IQ on same.
  5. How bad is it? Basically, Nurse/McDavid against elites performed very well, but Nurse cratered without 97. They are 56 percent in 43 minutes together against elites, Nurse is 43.7 percent in 115 without McDavid against elites. That’s all DFF 5×5 via Puck IQ. Lordy. Important to remember Nurse is still a young blue, so going up against elites without McDavid is not the kind of situation we should expect to see a 50 percent DFF result.
  6. What about middle opposition? He struggled badly, going 46.3 percent DFF 5×5 in 288 minutes. His rel number (-4.3) was the worst on the team. Nurse performed very poorly against mid-level without McDavid (36.3 percent DFF). Important to remember the gap for all players when 97 is off the ice, that is the challenge being faced by Edmonton and Nurse. Still, this is mid-level opposition. The Oilers simply have to perform better in this discipline with McDavid off the ice. If Nurse is going to emerge as a useful top 4D, this number has to be better.
  7. What about gritensity? The lower levels saw Nurse perform at a high level. He was 59.4 in 215 minutes of DFF 5×5 against gritensity and his +2.4 rel number reflected success. He played very well with and without McDavid. I think we can say he should be expected to succeed against this level of opposition.
  8. Who was he playing with?  Matt Benning was his partner a lot in all three disciplines.
  9. What can we say for sure? I think we’re safe to say this duo flourished with McDavid at all levels, including elite. The time away, elites and middle, is the heart of the problem for Edmonton.
  10. Leon signed today! And that may mean he’s 2C, which means (hopefully) a more competitive “middle” as Puck IQ calls it.
  11. Will Darnell Nurse be the next young blue to move into the top 4D? Matt Benning played against elites 31 percent of the time, Nurse 24 percent. That’s a reasonable gap. It doesn’t mean it stays that way but the people who really stare at these things tell me that kind of tremor becomes the fault line. NHL coaches want to win, full stop. Whatever helps them get there is the key.
  12. What will Nurse do this coming season? Ideally he can help that second pairing bridge the gap until Andrej Sekera returns.
  13. Is that the logical ‘next step’ for Nurse at this stage? Nurse is through draft+4 and is through two seasons as a regular in the NHL. In 2015-16, he was unable to play a feature role successfully. In 2016-17, especially early, Nurse showed he could be a productive third pairing defenseman. That doesn’t mean he’ll stall there, and you would like him to play successfully against ‘the middle’ more than 288 minutes this coming year. Certainly you would want a better possession number in those moments, and I understand part of that has to do with the other men on the ice with him.
  14. What does he need to work on? Read and react, watching for the late breaking pass/trailer, the usual stuff. He made a famous defensive play in the playoffs when pushing an Anaheim Ducks forward into the crease. The Duck lingered forever, but the fact Nurse placed him there, and couldn’t remove him, was problematic.
  15. What will his contract look like? Five years, $3.2 million AAV, something like that. Nurse isn’t expected to bring a massive amount of offense, but is held in high regard by the organization. He will receive a good contract.
  16. You don’t project much offense. Nurse isn’t going to get power-play time and I’m projected some injury time, so his point total is solid. He brought more a year ago than we might have expected, perhaps he’ll do it again. I have him increasing slightly in offense.
  17. Is he part of the McDavid cluster? Yes. That’s an important thing to keep in mind. The Oilers, now and forever, believe in chemistry. We saw evidence of that today and we’ll talk about it the day Darnell Nurse signs his contract. These guys clearly want to stay here.
  18. How do you know? The biggest item was McDavid signing an eight-year deal. That was massive in my opinion. A major commitment from the player, and that obviously comes with the expectation that Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl will be part of it. That’s my opinion, anyway.
  19. Do you think Nurse will  emerge as a top 4D? I think he has all of the tools and has played 115 regular-season games. I’m not sure when he will emerge as a top 4D but do believe it will happen. He’s one year younger than Matt Benning, so we have to keep this past season in context.
  20. Why this song? It’s about faith, it’s about stepping into the light and finding your way. Darnell Nurse is right there, so close. I think we can be safe in saying Darnell Nurse will be an NHL player for a long time. The only question left: Where does he land on the depth chart? We wait.

RUNNING RE 2017-18 (DEFENSE)

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27 Responses to "RE 17-18 DARNELL NURSE: CONGREGATION"

  1. frjohnk says:

    55 games for Nurse would suggest he is tracking like Klefbom at the same age…..but only in the injury department.

    An injury free year for Nurse and I think he knocks it out of the park.

  2. Lowetide says:

    frjohnk:
    55 games for Nurse would suggest he is tracking like Klefbom at the same age…..but only in the injury department.

    An injury free year for Nurse and I think he knocks it out of the park.

    The purpose of RE is to take all emotion out of it, but with guys like Nurse and Nuge it becomes difficult. I don’t know if being a favorite of mine hurts or helps a player in projection. 🙂

  3. OriginalPouzar says:

    I think most of us have Darnell slotted in with Gryba to start the year with Benning moving up to the 2nd pairing with Russell – partially because we know McLellan wants to keep Klef and Larsson together.

    Auvitu is likely in the mix as well (maybe even Stanton).

    The question is, if the bottom two pairings, or one of them, is sinking and McLellan is forced to break up the Swedes, what happens do Darnell?

    Does he play with Larsson – we’ve seen them play well together (sample size = tiny).

    I love this player, I love his speed and athleticism. I love his heart. I still see top pairing potential but am not as sold on that as I once was. Can’t see him not developing in to a VERY good 2nd pairing d-man but am not sure he’s quite ready for full time duty there yet.

    He should get some spot time up the batting order this year and I hope he runs with it.

    We are going to need him to come in < $2M on his next contract.

  4. Pink Socks says:

    82 games from Nurse could be the revelation we need to surround him. I imagine that the Puck IQ numbers would have much more volatility in a 40 game season over an 80 game season for multiple reasons, smaller sample sizes, in the lineup but still injured, etc.

  5. Westchester Oil says:

    Watching Nurse skate backwards at his speed is beautiful to watch.

    I think a major area of improvement for him this year was the significant reduction in ‘chaos’ to his game – I think he now has a better idea of when not to roam about.

    I will take the over if 55 is the over/under line for games played in the upcoming season.

  6. Pink Socks says:

    Ideally I would like:

    Nurse Larsson
    Klefbom Benning
    Auvitu Russell
    Gryba

    That Russell contract sure is a tough pill, but hopefully he disappears in 2 seasons, right in time for the 2015 draftees.

  7. Bank Shot says:

    Pink Socks:
    82 games from Nurse could be the revelation we need to surround him.I imagine that the Puck IQ numbers would have much more volatility in a 40 game season over an 80 game season for multiple reasons, smaller sample sizes, in the lineup but still injured, etc.

    Huge. The team could have a bad ten game stretch of shots for and against and it hurts Nurse way more than the other guys is he was in for those ten games.

    Nurse was one of the best defenders in the playoffs for fancies.

  8. Kinger_Oil.redux says:

    – Great post LT! Your Nurse contract bit made me think: will term be the new pecking order

    – So bush for the OBC to sign the Steve Austins to identical dollars & years: made no sense except in a romantic way. 3 different players, with different years of service and actual value

    – Is part of the future negociations with the “new core” about signing them up for 8 years if they are CmD/Drai “core”, and therefore less years for lesser players type things?

    – No one was close by the way in the pool about the term and length for the two: I will post an update on the armchair GM 2017 soon…Some did have both at 8 years though…

  9. OriginalPouzar says:

    Westchester Oil:
    Watching Nurse skate backwards at his speed is beautiful to watch.

    I think a major area of improvement for him this year was the significant reduction in ‘chaos’ to his game – I think he now has a better idea of when not to roam about.

    I will take the over if 55 is the over/under line for games played in the upcoming season.

    Nailed it 100% with the removing chaos comment.

  10. OriginalPouzar says:

    Pink Socks:
    Ideally I would like:

    Nurse Larsson
    Klefbom Benning
    Auvitu Russell
    Gryba

    That Russell contract sure is a tough pill, but hopefully he disappears in 2 seasons, right in time for the 2015 draftees.

    I would LOVE Russell on the third pairing (even if it means shifting him back to the right side which I am remiss to do in the top 4).

    If Auvitu earns a spot in the lineup, I am on-board with this lineup, however, we know that McLellan likes Russell and very much trusts him. I can’t imagine he isn’t provided top 4 ES minutes to start the year which will only be reduced if he struggles (which he very well may do without Sekera, even if on his natural left side).

  11. godot10 says:

    With Sekera out, I would just fast forward to the future.

    Nurse, Larsson
    Klefbom, Benning.
    pray.

  12. Centre of attention says:

    To say Nurse will only play 55 games games due to injury is only partially true.

    The injury will not be to him, but poor Ryan Kesler will have a broken cheek bone, a caved orbital and more than a few missing teeth.

    Darnell won’t even give him the respect of asking for a fight, he’ll grab him by the benches just like Polak but this time a Duck will have to pull him off before he stops.

    20 game suspension and throw in a few injury games in between. Not only does Darnell need to work on his read & react hockey wise, he needs to control his temper. His “cross check first, ask questions later” method to net front presence doesn’t work. You need to tie up his stick, and after the shot is fired and misses or rebounds or what ever you need to definitely stop the crosschecks and get your stick on the ice to make a friggen play.

    How many times last season did a goal against get scored and Darnell is within crosschecking distance of the scorer. Either he gets stuck puck watching while the opposition cycles or he’s got his stick in the guys numbers.

    He does have some sort of chemistry with McDavid though, its almost like when Connor is out there Darnell takes the game a lot more seriously. He seems to read whats going on and really knows when to jump into the play when Connor’s around. He had some absolutely fantastic chances last year jumping up as the trailer on a 97 sortie. He’s definitely got a little more offensive upside than we all maybe thought, then again he had a few decent offensive years in the Soo as well.

    I recall one MSM asking Darnell about his offensive game in the Soo around the time of his draft and he commented on the coach asking him to play a more shutdown role and going along with that rather than focusing on pumping the numbers. Plus they had DeAngelo for a time and he was soaking up a lot of the PP minutes I would imagine.

    I’m rambling now but there’s some thoughts on Darnell Nurse. Personally I love his potential, if he gets his head straight he’ll be a helluva player. But there’s definitely a disconnect right now and 4 years in one starts to wonder.

  13. leadfarmer says:

    The important thing that needs mentioning about Nurse is that even if he plays every game next season he will still not break 200 reg season games until the following season

  14. OriginalPouzar says:

    Yes, I think we all acknowledge that Darnell is not a finished product and has some work to do on his game.

    Its a good think he’s still on his ELC and a young kid well within the continuing development range for d-men.

  15. Centre of attention says:

    Reid Wilkins‏Verified account @ReidWilkins 6m6 minutes ago
    More
    Chiarelli sees Leon as a centre down the line, maybe as early as this season.

  16. OriginalPouzar says:

    Centre of attention:
    Reid Wilkins‏Verified account @ReidWilkins6m6 minutes ago
    MoreChiarelli sees Leon as a centre down the line, maybe as early as this season.

    Really shocking statement by the GM there – of course.

    The question is, where does Coach Todd want to play him, in October, in January, for the next 8 years?

  17. jtblack says:

    OriginalPouzar,

    This leads to THE question. McLellan has never advanced far in playoffs. He always loads up his Top 6, at the expense of Balance??

    I think it’s imperative Leon gets the keys to 2C and figures out how to drive .. He will play with Connor on PP1 and 3on3 ; so that will cover their continued chemistry …

  18. jtblack says:

    LT: Great write up …. again .. You always come with Logic and it’s hard to debate what you have projected for Nurse. I think we would all Love for him to take that LEAP this year … Would do wonders for this organization if he did. Klefbom, Sekera and a Top 4 level Nurse is one heck of a Lefttorium (your word)

  19. Centre of attention says:

    OriginalPouzar: Really shocking statement by the GM there – of course.

    The question is, where does Coach Todd want to play him, in October, in January, for the next 8 years?

    I’m pretty sure his placement in the batting order was discussed in the contract negotiation, and McLellan does answer to the GM.

    Why do you think Caggulia got all that rope after going MIA for 2 months, just coasting along racking up games played? The GM said “play this kid” so the coach made do with what he had to deal with. I’m sure if it was up to the coach Jesse would have been sent down much sooner. But there was something up with Jesse’s dad traveling with the team, the whole “we brought him over from Europe to play” kind of thing, I believe the GM influenced the coach to keep the kid around for longer than maybe he should have been. This is purely my speculation and well into tinfoil hat territory but stay with me here.

    If the GM says Leon is a center, pretty sure he’s going to be a center. The coach is a part of these internal discussions too. Wouldn’t be shocked if starting from day 1 Leon is 2C and they try and pump and dump Nuge on Connors wing.

    Teams are probably looking at Nuge wondering “is he essentially Brayden Schenn?” wicked on the PP, mediocre at evens and more of a winger at heart? Maybe more of a two way game than Schenn but the comparison works numbers wise IMO. Maybe if Nuge was sheltered half as much as Schenn has been, the even strength offense would be better but you get the picture by now. Teams that are calling about him want to see Nuge put in an offensive role, to see if he still has the juice. The GM wants to get the best value and technically Chiarelli could fire Todd at any moment so you get the picture right?

    To sum up, the ratio of time Leon spends at center will be 70/30 rather than 30/70. Todd will lean on the Connor-Leon duo at certain times, maybe when the team is chasing the lead late in an important game. But the majority of games the starting lineup will list Leon as 2C and Nuge as a top 6 W on either line. Leon-Nuge had some great chem BTW I mentioned it yesterday. That line they had in 2015-2016 was pretty dominant. They connected on a very memorable pass & goal against Montreal early in that season.

  20. cowboy bill says:

    I can see Nurse & Larsson as a solid pair , I also see Klefbom & Benning as another solid pair .
    Call them ! & !a .
    I also see Russell & Gryba as a very nice 3rd pair .
    When Sekera returns they will have three solid pairs , Klefbom-Benning , Nurse-Larsson & Sekera-Russell .

  21. stush18 says:

    Centre of attention,

    Quick nitpick, but I wouldn’t classify caguilla struggling at centre for half the season after an injury when he has never that position before as coasting.

  22. dustrock says:

    Considering Drai signed at $8.5m, I guess the rumors of his ask being $10m were true.

    Believes in himself.

  23. slopitch says:

    Good writeup LT. For a while we’ve all talked about how big and strong Nurse will be as a 24 year old. Well we’re getting close. With his speed and athleticism I think he’s at worst a 2nd pairing. Play him with Larsson for a season, let him free wheel and grow with our most stable presence. Klef can anchor his own pairing.

  24. kgo says:

    Darnell has reached the age where boys develop man strength. He will be a force this year and for the decade that follows. It’s curious to watch the analytics folks who are much more statistically inclined than me struggle to “surround” what Darnell is….from my perspective, it is easy to see that Darnell will bring epic value to this roster for years to come. Further, Darnell is smart enough to realize our cap situation, I predict he signs a 2 year bridge to get us through sekera and Russell’s NMCs, at which point he gets paid as a solid 2/3 dman

  25. Zelepukin says:

    Ya, there is no question Darnell is going to grow into being one the meanest, toughest D in the league. His compete level is off the chart. He is 220ish and yet still looks like he will eventually put on some serious man-strength muscle. At the same time being a great skater. Who would a past comparable be? Darnell at 25 is going to be scary.

  26. russ99 says:

    Not only do we need to think about offense, puck moving and pairing support when it comes to d-pairings, but also how that affects Talbot’s workload.

    Klefbom-Benning and Auvitu with anyone but a stout defender will cause problems.

    I see it the way McLellan likely sees it

    Klefbom-Larsson and Russell-Benning getting the lions share of minutes while Sekera is out doesn’t hang Talbot out to dry and is adequate going the other way.

    I’m hoping this is the year that Nurse gets his defensive game together, even what Benning gave us last season world be an improvement.

    Otherwise he needs sheltering by Gryba or defensive defenseman with skates camp pickup.

  27. OriginalPouzar says:

    I look for Klef and Larsson to get an extra minute or two of ES time early in the year with Sekera out.

    My fear is injury risk with those increased (and tough) minutes.

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