The Edmonton Oilers reported on Friday morning that defenceman Darnell Nurse is injured. He is expected to miss two or more weeks, although the exact timeline isn’t known at this time. At a minimum, it looks like Nurse will miss at least four games.
Breaking…Darnell Nurse injured. Will miss a few weeks. https://t.co/a0kOduBrbt
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) November 19, 2021
Edmonton Oilers Defenceman Darnell Nurse Sidelined With Injury
The loss of Nurse comes on the heels of Edmonton’s 2-1 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. In that game, Nurse played over 31 minutes of ice-time, including over half of overtime. There were no immediately obvious plays in the game to indicate when or how Nurse received the injury. The Oilers did, however, also lose defenceman Slater Koekkoek in that game. Koekkoek was clearly banged up on a play in the first period and left during the second intermission. He is expected to be out day-to-day. The loss of both Nurse and Koekkoek has the Oilers down two pieces on their left-defence.
Nurse has been off to his usual workhorse style season. He’s appeared in all 16 games, averaging 26 minutes of ice-time a night. He has 11 assists, no goals, and 14 penalty minutes. Nurse’s advanced metrics have been solid as well, with higher than 50% totals in both Corsi For and Fenwick For, while playing against the opposition’s best forwards.
Nurse is also coming off the best season of his career. Last season, he finished seventh in Norris Trophy voting, earning him a massive eight-year, $74 million contract in the offseason.
What This Means Going Forward
This is a huge loss for the Edmonton Oilers. Nurse is unquestionably their number one defenceman. Without him in the lineup, it means that an already shaky Oilers’ blue-line will now need to find a way to cover his 26 minutes of ice-time a night.
Most likely, this means that the duo of Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci will become Edmonton’s top pair. This isn’t the worst situation in the world for Edmonton. These two have already spent 243 minutes together at even strength this season. In those minutes, they’ve carved out a 49.79% expected goals for rate, while drawing near even in actual goals (12-13). They’ve already been tasked with facing tough competition, so eating up Nurse’s minutes shouldn’t be too much of an extra challenge.
The issue is what will happen to the other four defencemen. Tyson Barrie will need to find a new regular partner, as he has played the most with Nurse, Koekkoek and Kris Russell. All three of which are now banged up. Evan Bouchard, who has shown well in his early career, will be depended on to elevate his game even further.
The Oilers have also recalled rookie defenceman Phillip Broberg from the AHL. He’s been excellent in Bakersfield, but the jump to the NHL is a big one. He’ll likely make his debut on Saturday night.
If Russell remains sidelined, the Oilers will need to make another move to get to six defencemen. Stay tuned for more updates as they arrive.