Oilers Defenseman Makes Top Trade Candidates List

As the Edmonton Oilers face a huge Game 4 Wednesday night in trying to even their Conference Finals series with the Dallas Stars, one player who has taken on the brunt of the criticism for the Oilers is defenseman Darnell Nurse.  

The veteran blueliner is sporting an ugly plus/minus rating of -12 in Edmonton's 15 playoff games, with just two assists on the scoresheet. With six seasons still to run on his hefty $9.25 million AAV contract, the spotlight glare on Nurse has been red-hot for his troublesome performance, both in general in these playoffs, and in this series in particular.

A typical fan's response reads like this:

It's no surprise, then, to find his name on the latest Top 20 Trade Targets list unveiled by hockey insider Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff. But finding a taker at that massive cap hit may be a bit of a problem, needless to say.

Nurse's time on ice and points total were both at their lowest in seven years this season. 32 points and 21:54 minutes per game are not terrible numbers, and he even posted a +3 rating over the course of his 81 regular-season games, but most would say they're not worthy of the massive cap hit he represents.  

Per Seravalli, an even bigger problem with his contract is that it's got $24 million in a backloaded signing bonus that "makes it almost impossible to buy out".

The Oilers will have to figure out what to do with Nurse going forward. Trading one bad contract for another team's bad contract? Is it worth getting a deal like that done for the 28-year-old?

Somehow, if the Oilers can recover from their current 2-1 series deficit with Dallas and go on to win the Stanley Cup, perhaps all this will be forgotten. Or maybe not. 

Photo: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports