Craig MacTavish said a very interesting thing today, and I do believe it reflects the Oilers’ thinking in regard to next season. Here’s the quote:
This is why I didn’t believe MacT earlier in the spring when he talked about forcing everyone down the lineup. You can SAY those things, but the leaves turn and everything changes. I sincerely believe this is what we’ll be looking at this fall: more Nurse and Klefbom and Marincin (and Draisaitl), and less this patience stuff. I’m not saying it’s wise, but it is Oilers.
For those who don’t recall, allow me to refer you to Terry Jones recent article, which stated:
- MacT: “We’re not going to compromise our young prospects on defence,” he said of forcing the likes of Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, etc. into the line-up until they are ready. “We’d rather they played in the American Hockey League or junior.”
I wrote about it here. In that article, I said the following:
- Prospects don’t develop in a straight line, and maybe Martin Marincin arrives at camp looking like a rookie pro. I don’t think it’s likely, and I can’t imagine Dallas Eakins giving up his big defenseman—unless the Oilers plan on grabbing two LH defensemen who are in fact better and have more experience. The bottom line is this: It’s all well and good to say you’re sending the kids back to the American League, but when they’re performing better than your veterans it’s a tough sell. I can’t imagine a scenario where a healthy and effective Marincin sees the AHL next season, and the same is basically true for Klefbom (although he could start there again, depending on the summer). And Nurse? We’ll see. A lot of things get said in June, it’s a lot different when the rubber hits the road
RECENT QUOTES ON NURSE
- Michael Parkatti: “All you can really ask of your prospects is that they progress. I think it’s pretty obvious he progressed year over year. It’s probably a function of the opportunity he was given, he was playing behind some older players during his draft season. It’s good to see that he performed pretty well when given the chance. In terms of his chances, you have to look at the depth chart and think he has a shot here.”
- SSM GM Kyle Dubas: “People get obsessed with Darnell’s plus/minus (plus-1, down from plus-15 the year prior), but his underlying numbers are excellent. Relative to the competition he plays [against], he does extremely well. Far greater than 50 percent of the time, the puck is not in our end. To me, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. If we’re taking the other team’s best players and forcing them to play in their end and away from the puck, that’s a successful day. The quality of competition he’s faced is higher than anyone else in our league, especially among defencemen.
- Ryan Dittrick: Averaging more than 27 minutes per game against the opposition’s best players, “with no exceptions,” night after night in all situations? “That’s Darnell,” Dubas says. “There are no shifts off.” He’s been a force, an absolute brute on the Soo blueline.
(Nurse photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)