Edmonton Oilers: The battle of Darnell Nurse vs. Oscar Klefbom

Here is a breakdown of where Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom stand with the Edmonton Oilers.

Hello all,

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged for my audience here at Oil on Whyte.  I do apologize but it’s one of those things where sometimes life gets in the way and you get a mental block.

Now I’m back and let’s talk some Oilers, shall we?

We all knew that when Dave Tippett took over as head coach this season, that there’d be changes.  I mean, the Oilers finished 2nd last in the West last season and 7th worst in the league. That’s crying out for something different.

A lot of personnel – especially in the bottom 6 forwards – were changed up by new GM Ken Holland. Tippett has been able to do what Todd McLellan and Ken Hitchcock couldn’t do last season – vault the Oilers up the standings.

Of course, it helps that this year Tippett has goaltending that can stop a puck – never mind a beach ball – and a bottom 6 that kicks in the offense once in a while and doesn’t bleed GA – two things our coaches from last year clearly didn’t have personnel-wise.

One key change Tippett has made is up until last game, he flip-flopped Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom, putting Nurse on the top pairing and putting Klefbom on the second pairing.

Up until this season, Klefbom reigned supreme on the top pairing port side. In theory, this is something that is ballsy but made a lot of sense.

After all, Nurse is the bigger guy – if only by a little bit – and has proven he can not only chip in offense but can play physical as well. On the top pairing, he’ll be facing more physical play than on the 2nd pairing, as well as stiffer competition.

Klefbom, meanwhile, has been quite injury-prone throughout his career, and on the second pairing would be facing less physical play and softer competition than he would on the first pairing, meaning the chance for injury is reduced. Notice how I said reduced, not eliminated?  NHL players go into this thing with their eyes wide open, they can get injured at any time and they know it.

Ice time

Tippett has, unsurprisingly, deployed the boys much differently.  Nurse, in fact, leads the team in EV ice time at 19:55/game, while Klefbom is No. 2 on the team at 18:57, almost an entire minute less per game than Klefbom.

On special teams, though, it’s a different story.  Klefbom reigns supreme on the team on the PK, playing 3:20 to lead the team, while Nurse is only fifth on the team in that regard in 2:08 per game.

On the PP, neither player leads the team in ice time, but Klefbom ranks #4 on the team at 3:30 – eclipsed only by the big 3 forwards – you know who I’m talking about there – and why wouldn’t Tippett do that, to be honest?  Feed the opposition a steady diet of the best duo in the league and a very good player in Nurse, it makes sense.

Anyway, Nurse gets time on the PP just like Klefbom but Klef is on the 1st unit whereas Nurse is only on the second.  If you took a look at the numbers, because of Mcdavid and Dr. Drai the opposition sees the first unit a lot more than the second unit, which again totally makes sense.  For the record, Nurse gets 0:51 on the PP per game, good enough for only seventh on the team.

Because of all the extra time he spends on special teams, Klefbom leads the team in TOI with a whopping 25:47 per game – tied for tops in the league with Drew Doughty.  That’s huge.

Bottom line

Neither of these players will be mistaken for elite players – Nurse has 2-1-13 in 29 games while Klefbom has 1-17-18 in 29 games.

That time will likely go down as the prospects we have in the pipeline become ready and ready to contribute in the top 4, but right now the Oilers have two solid d-men who have both proven they are capable of playing in the top pairing.  There is no downside to that, it can only be good for the team.

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