The Edmonton Oilers and young restricted free agent defenseman Darnell Nurse may have run into a potential contract snag.
Nurse, a restricted free agent, is looking for a new deal with the Oilers that will pay him fairly for the increased role he played last season. Meanwhile, Edmonton is looking to keep a young talent in the organization for years to come. Both sides assume Nurse's role will expand and he'll be a valuable part of the Oilers young core moving forward. The problem is, the Oilers can't currently afford to lock up Nurse long-term.
Recent comments by Nurse's agent revealed if the Oilers want Nurse for the long haul now, they'll need to compensate him for the years he's potentially giving up down the road as NHL salaries continue to balloon. Nurse may not be worth $5 million or more this season but as the cost of keeping minute-munching defensemen goes up, Nurse will be more valuable, thus a long-term deal around $4 million doesn't benefit the player when he could hit a home run in free agency.
Nurse’s agent Anton Thun sees an opportunity that might not favor the Oilers. “They’ve sent us a proposal and we’ll see where that goes,” said Thun. “I don’t see with their cap space being what it is that they can entice us with much term.”
What this means is that Nurse's side only sees an NHL bridge contract as an option.
A bridge deal is not a huge problem for this season or next, but if Nurse continues to progress, he could be worth much more than $5 million and the Edmonton Oilers have somewhat of a cap crisis on their hands with some very expensive contracts lurking in the background.
Will this lead to the Oilers seeing what the trade market has to offer for a player of Nurse's ability? Edmonton could badly use a top-six right-winger and while their blue line isn't the strongest in the NHL, moving Nurse could fetch Edmonton the help they need up front.