Following Tuesday night’s win over the New York Rangers, the Edmonton Oilers made four more cuts to trim their roster down even further. Included in this round of cuts include the Oilers first overall pick in this year’s draft, defenseman Darnell Nurse.
Nurse has impressed the Oilers brass over the past few pre-season games, improving his play each and every night while showing strength on the puck and poise in his own end. In other words, he looked like he belonged on the ice.
But this is pre-season and the real deal is a step up from what Nurse was experiencing. Not saying he wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure or the pace of the regular season, but with the Oilers blue line stocked with NHL proven defenseman, assigning Nurse back to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds was the best move for everyone involved.
Allowing Nurse to further develop at the junior ranks where he’ll play likely close to thirty minutes a night is more beneficial then dressing every other night in Edmonton. Even then he’d only play around that ten minute mark.
Nurse is clearly the future on the Oilers blue line and choosing not to rush him to the big leagues is the smart move, despite what some fans may be crying for this morning.
Anton Lander also got the news that he won’t be starting the season with the Oilers after learning he had been assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons. Lander was pegged as a potential fourth line centre when camp opened, but his play hasn’t been to the level that the Oilers need.
When Sam Gagner went down to injury the door was left wide open for a spot on the second line and again Lander was mentioned as a possibility. Once again he couldn’t elevate his game to grab that second line centre and now the club is focusing on keeping players who can bang and crash for their fourth line, leaving Lander on the outside looking in.
Joining Lander in OKC is forward Tyler Pitlick and defenseman Taylor Fedun, both of whom have two-way contracts and won’t have to be placed on waivers.
Pitlick was providing that grit and physical play the Oilers are looking for, but in the end players ahead of him will get the shot while he waits for his turn.