Darnell Nurse Can Shine as the Edmonton Oilers Number One Defenceman

Darnell Nurse

With the 2020-21 NHL season ascending ahead, the Edmonton Oilers will most likely look to Darnell Nurse to be the upcoming hero. The former first-round pick will pursue to carry out the role of Oscar Klefbom Perhaps a dreadful situation referring to Klefbom’s ongoing chronic shoulder injury. It’s very likely surgery be attended to at some time in the near future, which will force Oscar Klefbom to miss most or all of the 2020-21 NHL season. Darnell is no outsider to taking on a greater assignment and eating up a mass portion of minutes. The only question is will he come to shine as the Edmonton Oilers’ top defensemen?

Darnell Nurse Can Blossom into a Number One Defenceman

In addition to Nurse’s career, he has played 350 games incorporating 121 points. The 2018-19 season was his most notable hockey played yet to his career. With a full season of 82 games played, he combined for 10-31-41. However, just one of the 10 goals came from the power-play, the rest coming from even strength. Besides last season Nurse has the best points and the second-best first assists at even strength on the Oilers. While I am talking about last season, Nurse ranks as the top 40 in even-strength points amongst D-Men that have played at least 500 minutes. The 25-year-old excels at five on five hockey, and clearly, it has been his most dominant aspect in the game.

Another year rolls on by as Edmonton finds themselves stacked up against Klefbom injuries. Alternatively, the situation provides Darnell Nurse with the chance to succeed in a top-pairing role. However, his defence has yet to be top-notch, and it comprises room to develop. It’s not like the left-shot defenceman to make an unnecessary penalty or turnover. Particularly these difficulties take part when the defender is being overplayed.

Throughout Nurse’s career, he has averaged about 20 minutes per night, filling in the top spot. Watching Nurse’s stamina on the ice, it will have to improve sufficiently, as he will average around 25 minutes per night. When looking at his last two seasons he has averaged 23 minutes a night and had consumed the most TOI last season as an Oilers’ D-Men.

The Conclusion

Perhaps Darnell has learned from his exorbitant misfortunes by being overplayed. The time is now to grow into a top defender and refuse to create similar mistakes in the future. The 25-year-old at 6′-“4, 221 pounds brings a physical presence to his game night in and night out. In reality, Nurse has the intangibles to be a top defender and he has coach Dave Tippett to offer the tools he requires. Respect in the locker room surrounds him incredibly, and he is an easy player to coach.

Looking For A Dance Partner

In the past few seasons, we have seen Darnell Nurse pair up with Kris RussellAdam Larsson and Ethan Bear. There is also a fresh addition to Edmonton, in Tyson Barrie. Although the thought seems intriguing to pair up Nurse and Barrie, it may not be the wisest choice. The reason to be is that both players lack a dominant defensive game, with an offensive upside. Knowing the defensive struggles with Edmonton, I’d be skeptical of this pairing. Here’s a look at the three probable nominees.

Kris Russell

The Kris Russel experiment was one that did not age well. Both players struggled defensively regarding a volume of outstanding shots against. Paired together was only an experiment, and a failed one. The chemistry was not there as well, considering both are left-handed shots. Not only are there these warning signs staring right at the Edmonton Oilers, and with no disrespect to Russell, he is not a top pairing player.

Adam Larsson

Adam Larsson plays a strong defensive physical game, who matched up nicely with Nurse. Shot attempts and shots against while this duo was on the ice, was one of Edmonton’s best other than the familiar Klefbom and Larsson pairing. In the 2018-19 season, we saw a lot of that Larsson together but non-existent in the 2019-20 season. Darnell Nurse played with almost any defender on the team that season and no companion was better than Larsson. Dave Tippett could go with the Nurse-Larsson duo this upcoming season, as it was trustworthy.

Ethan Bear

Last year’s rookie Ethan Bear made an enormous leap of faith when paired up with Darnell. The chemistry between these two was as good as Edmonton has seen in quite some time. In the first half of the season, the pair looked outstanding, strong and almost unstoppable. As the other half of the season went on though, mistakes happened and their game as one mismatched and declined. Among the most minutes played as a pair these two held the lead, but the goals-against average for 60 minutes was 3.16 a team-leading worse. Goals-for was at 2.85, a team-best for the defending unit. It very well could be a good look at pairing these two to start the season and see if they can rediscover the magic they had. There we have it, folks, that will conclude the Oilers first pairing unit starting the 2019-20 season.

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